Israel: ‘Malicious’ travel ban on nuclear whistle-blower must be lifted

The Israeli Supreme Court’s refusal to allow whistle-blower Mordechai Vanunu to travel abroad is an inexcusable attempt to continue to punish him for what he did nearly 30 years ago, said Amnesty International.

The Court issued its decision at the same time as Mordechai Vanunu was expecting to travel to events he has been invited to in the UK.

He was sentenced to 18 years in prison in 1986 for blowing the whistle on Israel’s nuclear arsenal. Since his release in 2004 he has been subjected to a travel ban that prevents him from leaving Israel because he is deemed a security threat.

“There is absolutely no reason to believe Mordechai Vanunu would pose a threat to Israel’s security. The information he had about his country’s nuclear arsenal nearly three decades ago is irrelevant today. The Supreme Court’s ruling yet again sanctions the state’s dogged campaign of malicious vengeance against Mordechai Vanunu,” said Philip Luther, Middle East and North Africa Director at Amnesty International.

“Israel must stop punishing Vanunu. He served his time and must now be allowed to enjoy his basic right to leave the country if he wants to.”

Mordechai Vanunu has been invited to attend an event organized by Amnesty International on 17 June to promote the protection of whistle-blowers including Edward Snowden and Chelsea Manning. He has also been invited to address the British parliament on 18 June.

The Israeli Supreme Court’s judges accepted the Minister of Interior’s claim that, if allowed to leave the country, Mordechai Vanunu could damage Israel and its citizens with the information he could reveal about the country’s nuclear capacity. However, the former nuclear technician has no new information on Israel’s nuclear arsenal and what he knew in 1986 has been in the public domain for almost 30 years.

He is also banned from entering foreign embassies, taking part in internet chats and speaking to foreigners, including journalists, without prior permission.