Israel: Supreme Court must overturn ‘absurd’ travel ban on nuclear whistleblower

The Israeli government’s refusal to allow whistleblower Mordechai Vanunu, who leaked details of the country’s nuclear arsenal to the international media in 1986, to leave the country for even three days to attend events in the UK next week is entirely unjustified, said Amnesty International. 

Last month, Israel’s Interior Minister rejected an application by the former nuclear technician to travel to the UK in June. His lawyers have petitioned the Supreme Court to overturn this decision, as well as to revoke a host of other restrictions against him including an ongoing complete travel ban. The Court is expected to rule on his request to travel to the UK next week.

Mordechai Vanunu is due to attend an event organized by Amnesty International in London on 17 June to promote the protection of whistleblowers including Edward Snowdon and Chelsea Manning. He has also been invited to address the British parliament on 18 June.  

“The continued punishment of Mordechai Vanunu for blowing the whistle on Israel’s nuclear arsenal 18 years ago is vindictive and utterly groundless,” said Philip Luther, Director for the Middle East and North Africa Programme at Amnesty International.  

“It is simply absurd that the government is refusing to lift the travel ban against him for a mere three days so that he is able to attend whistleblower events in London. The Supreme Court must seize this opportunity to permit Mordechai Vanunu to travel to the UK.” 

A decade after his release from prison Mordechai Vanunu is barred from leaving Israel. He is also banned from entering foreign embassies, or taking part in internet chats and speaking to foreign journalists without prior permission. 

“The continuing restrictions against Mordechai Vanunu are arbitrary and totally unjustifiable; he is like a caged bird who has been set free but has had his wings clipped. He offers no threat whatsoever to the security of Israel – any knowledge he once had about Israel’s nuclear arsenal is completely irrelevant today,” said Philip Luther.

Mordechai Vanunu served an 18-year prison sentence for revealing information about Israel’s nuclear arsenal to The Sunday Times in 1986. He spent the first 11 years of his prison term in solitary confinement. The Israeli authorities say he still poses a threat to national security.

For more information please see:

Amnesty International Public Statement: “Israel: Allow Mordechai Vanunu to travel to events on whistleblower protection”

Amnesty International event at Frontline Club 17 June: Protecting Whistleblowers