Guest writer Steven Katsineris with a piece he wrote in July 2013. Steven Katsineris is an Australian free-lance writer of articles on Palestine, Cyprus and the rest of the Middle East region, political prisoners and human rights, environmental and social issues. He has been actively involved in the Palestine solidarity movement for over forty years. Steven lives with his family in Melbourne, Australia.
About my case now, I served the full sentence, even if it was an injustice. I am demanding my total freedom that could be only by leaving Israel for the free world. Israel continues to punish me. They arrested me, I am under restrictions, not to leave, not to speak freely. I am demanding my freedom of speech, freedom of movement. There is no justice by Israel democracy system. I am calling to US media to report, to interview, for my human rights, freedom, and for telling the truth about Nuclear Weapons in Israel - Mordechai Vanunu.
In 1986, Mordechai Vanunu took a very courageous moral stand against nuclear weapons. Vanunu exposed Israel’s secret nuclear weapons arsenal to the world after becoming disillusioned with his work as a technician at Dimona Nuclear Research Centre in Israel. The information revealed Israel had hundreds of advanced nuclear warheads (the sixth largest stockpile in the world). Under a policy of nuclear ambiguity, Israel still officially denies it has nuclear weapons, despite Vanunu’s revelations and other widespread evidence to the contrary.
His brave actions led to Vanunu being kidnapped by Israeli Mossad agents in Italy and transported back to Israel where he was charged with espionage and treason and convicted in a secret trial. He was sentenced to 18 years in prison. Vanunu’s abduction was a violation of both Italian and International Law. According to article 9 of the International Convention on Civil and Political Rights, no person shall be subjected to arbitrary arrest or detention, including abduction of a person by agents of one state to another one.
For this ‘crime’ he spent 18 years in jail, with over 11 years of it in solitary confinement in a six metre square cell under constant camera observation. He was held in conditions that Amnesty International describes as, “cruel, inhuman and degrading.”
Vanunu, Out of Prison, But Still Not Free
I am staying in East Jerusalem under occupation, among Christians and Palestinians. I like to meet friends, supporters, talk about my case, everyone is very welcome. My future plan is to continue to do for peace and abolition of Nuclear Weapons - Vanunu.
Vanunu was released from prison in April 2004. At a press conference after his release, Vanunu said that Israel’s Mossad spy agency and Shin Bet, the secret service tried to rob him of his sanity by keeping him in solitary for so long. “You didn’t succeed to break me, you didn’t succeed to make me crazy.” Vanunu said. Vanunu also called for Israel’s nuclear disarmament and for its dismantlement as a Jewish state.
Since his release from jail Vanunu has been living in a room in St. Georges Anglican Cathedral, in East Jerusalem. While Vanunu was let out of jail he still remains unfree. After his release Israeli authorities imposed a strict military supervision order on him, with a number of prohibitions. Under this order Vanunu is banned from meeting journalists, not to have contact with supporters and foreigners (without permission), can’t use mobile phones, his telephone and internet is monitored, not to approach foreign embassies or consulates, nor visit ports or airports, not come within 500 metres of any international border crossing or move address without informing the police. Vanunu is also subject to continuous police surveillance, his internal movements are confined to Jerusalem and he is forbidden to leave Israel. These curbs are renewed every 12 months. These Israeli restrictions deny Vanunu’s rights to freedom of expression, movement and association. Amnesty International said that as Vanunu has served his full sentence, these limitations are a breach of international law. Vanunu has been questioned, arrested, detained, put under house arrest, given community sentence and his residence searched several times since 2004 for breaching these rigid regulations.
Vanunu has also appeared in Israeli courts on numerous occasions on charges of having violated the terms of his release. In mid 2010, Vanunu spent another three months in jail, in solitary confinement in central Israel. He had been sentenced to serve more time for unauthorized meetings with his Norwegian girlfriend and journalists and for travelling to Bethlehem to attend Christmas Eve mass.
While he was in prison, Amnesty International campaigned for Vanunu’s unconditional release. Malcolm Smart, from AI stated, 'Mordechai Vanunu should not be in prison, let alone be held in solitary confinement…to return him to such conditions now is harsh and unjustified.'
Vanunu followed his conscience and has since been harshly persecuted imprisoned and by Israel. After being released from prison, his civil and political and human rights have been grossly abused. He has served his long and cruel prison sentence and under international law he is entitled to his liberty.
Vanunu Tries to Leave Israel.
My country is not Israel. My country is outside Israel. Israel didn’t respect me for 18 years…I don’t like Israel, I don’t want to live in Israel. I want to be free and leave Israel -Vanunu.
Since his release Vanunu has repeatedly challenged the Israeli ban stopping him travelling overseas. These attempts to leave Israel have now dragged on for over nine years, without success.
'Israel is bound by international law not to impose arbitrary restrictions on Mordechai Vanunu, including on his right to travel within the country or abroad, his right to peaceful association with others and his right to express his opinions,' said Amnesty International.
Widespread International Support for Vanunu.
Mordechai Vanunu is the preeminent hero of the nuclear era. He consciously risked all he had in life, to warn his country and the world of the true extent of the nuclear danger facing us. And he paid the full price, a burden in many ways worse than death, for his heroic act. For doing exactly what should have been done and what others should be doing - Daniel Ellsberg referring to Vanunu, April 21, 2004.
Many organizations and individuals, including Amnesty International, former Anglican Archbishop and leading anti-apartheid activist Desmond Tutu, linguist and writer Noam Chomsky, Pentagon Papers whistleblower Daniel Ellsberg, Irish peace activist Mairead Maguire, artist Yoko Ono and the late playwright Harold Pinter have supported Vanunu’s just struggle to be free. Amnesty International declared Vanunu a prisoner of conscience and has continually called for his immediate and unconditional release.
For instance, in 1999, thirty-six members of the US House of Representatives signed an appeal for the release of Vanunu stating that it was their duty “to mobilize for men and women like Mordechai Vanunu who dare to articulate a brighter vision for humanity.”
On April 20, 2013 the following statement was released by some of Vanunu’s supporters:
Nine years ago, Mordechai Vanunu was released from Ashkelon prison in Israel. He had served the full 18 years of this sentence- including over 11 years in solitary confinement – for blowing the whistle on Israel’s secret possession and manufacture of nuclear weapons. But he is still not free: during these past nine years he has continued to be imprisoned in Israel by draconian restrictions which prevent him from leaving the country-restrictions which also limit his freedom of speech and movement within Israel. He has been subjected to harassment and intimidation by Israeli authorities, including a further period of imprisonment for breaching his restrictions by talking to foreigners. So Mordechai has now suffered 27 years loss of freedom for his service to the truth. These restrictions must be lifted so he can at last be free. - Tony Benn, Ben Birnberg, Julie Christie, Jeremy Corbyn MP, Kate Hudson, Bruce Kent, Roger Lloyd-Pack, Caroline Lucas MP.
Demand the Immediate and Unconditional Release of Vanunu.
Mordechai Vanunu–my friend, my hero, my brother–has again been arrested in Israel on “suspicion” of the “crime” of “meeting with foreigners." I myself have been complicit in this offense, travelling twice to Israel for the express purpose of meeting with him, openly, and expressing support for the actions for which he was imprisoned for over eighteen years. His offense has been to defy openly and repeatedly, conditions put on his freedom of movement and associations and speech after he had served his full sentence, restrictions on his human rights which were a direct carry-over from the British Mandate, colonial regulations in clear violation of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Such restrictions have no place in a nation evincing respect for a rule of law and fundamental human rights. His arrest and confinement are outrages and should be ended immediately - Daniel Ellsberg.
Just like former political prisoners Nelson Mandela and Aung San Suu Kyi, Vanunu is a political prisoner, still being held in captivity and under constant risk of further detention in prison. He has served his prison time and is entitled to a life free of Israel’s repressive rules.
'I request that you set me free of Israel, since Israel does not want me nor do I want Israel' - Statement by Vanunu to Israeli High Court.
In July 2011, Vanunu petitioned the Israeli High Court requesting that the Interior Minister Eli Yishai immediately revoke his Israeli citizenship. He filed a similar petition to the High Court asking for his citizenship to be revoked in 1998, while still in prison. The Interior Minister denied Vanunu’s request on the grounds that he did not have another citizenship.
However, the Israeli Citizenship Revocation Law passed in March 2011, enables courts to revoke the citizenship of those convicted of crimes against the state, including treason. Vanunu’s attorney, Avigdor Feldman, said in the High Court petition that Vanunu should therefore now be permitted to renounce his citizenship.
In the petition, Feldman said Vanunu is not able to “find his place in Israeli society” because he is hounded by the media and by the public, who still refer to him as the “nuclear spy” although he has served his prison sentence.
Vanunu’s High Court petition follows a letter he wrote to Yishai in May, in which he told the interior minister he no longer wanted to live in Israel. 'I request that you set me free of Israel, since Israel does not want me nor do I want Israel', he wrote to Yishai.
A year later, in June, 2012 the Israeli High Court denied Vanunu’s petition to renounce his citizenship, saying his application had not been submitted according to the prescribed procedure.
The Israeli government has always denied Vanunu’s requests to leave the country, on the grounds that he might reveal additional state secrets. Vanunu has repeatedly stated that he revealed all the information he had in 1986 and that he has no further information. Scientists say that the Israeli claims that Vanunu has any more secret details to reveal are ridiculous and this is merely a pretext for continuing to punish him. Vanunu remains committed to human rights, disarmament and anti-nuclear campaigns.
Vanunu has expressed the desire to travel to the United States upon his release to be with his adoptive parents and to recover from the physical and psychological strain of 18 years in prison, mostly in solitary confinement.
Israeli officials contend that restricting Vanunu’s freedom upon his release is necessary to prevent him from divulging further secrets about Israel’s nuclear arsenal. But after almost 28 years Vanunu has no secrets or information left that could damage the Israel’s nuclear program or any other Israeli military or government secrets. What Israel fears is bad publicity if Vanunu were set free of its draconian measures and to also make an example of Vanunu, by imposing unending oppressive measures Israel seeks to deter others from pursuing similar actions.
On May 28, 2013, Vanunu posted this message to supporters about his situation -
Hi, this is Vanunu,The new Interior Minister renew the restrictions, not to leave the country, for one more year. Now the 10th year since my release, 2004-2014. So as I said before, Israel with 200 Atomic weapons, Hydrogen, Neutron Bombs, the only thing they can do is to arrest Vanunu, 1986-2013. This is a real Bullshit state. Freedom Now. I am now visiting with foreigners. I am ready to meet anyone who is coming here.
Israel continues to show a blatant contempt for Vanunu’s civil and human rights and to continue to vindictively punish him for his past revelations. So while the latest whistleblowers like Edward Snowden, Bradley Manning and Julian Assange deserve our utmost solidarity, we must not forget Vanunu, who after nearly 28 years is still suffering cruel treatment in Israel, due to his brave actions in exposing the nuclear stockpile held by Israel and the hypocrisy of the western countries that ignore Israeli nuclear weapons. Mordechai Vanunu’s plight needs to be publicised and for concerned people to do whatever they can do to support him. Vanunu is a principled man and a political prisoner, still being denied his democratic rights to freedom. Demand that Israel respect his basic human rights, lift the unjust regulations and give Vanunu genuine liberty, including the freedom to travel and to leave Israel. Call on Israel to Free Vanunu Now.
For more information about Vanunu or to support him visit-
Mordechai Vanunu would love to hear from his friends and supporters. You can write to Vanunu at:
c/o Cathedral Church of St. George
20 Nablus Road
PO Box 19018
I Am Your Spy
by Mordechai Vanunu
I am the clerk, the technician, the mechanic, the driver.
They said, Do this, do that, don't look left or right,
don't read the text. Don't look at the whole machine. You
are only responsible for this one bolt. For this one rubber-stamp.
This is your only concern. Don't bother with what is above you.
Don't try to think for us. Go on, drive. Keep going. On, on.
So they thought, the big ones, the smart ones, the futurologists.
There is nothing to fear. Not to worry.
Everything's ticking just fine.
Our little clerk is a diligent worker. He's a simple mechanic.
He's a little man.
Little men's ears don't hear, their eyes don't see.
We have heads, they don't.
Answer them, said he to himself, said the little man,
the man with a head of his own. Who is in charge? Who knows
where this train is going?
Where is their head? I too have a head.
Why do I see the whole engine,
Why do I see the precipice--
is there a driver on this train?
The clerk driver technician mechanic looked up.
He stepped back and saw -- what a monster.
Can't believe it. Rubbed his eyes and -- yes,
it's there all right. I'm all right. I do see
the monster. I'm part of the system.
I signed this form. Only now I am reading the rest of it.
This bolt is part of a bomb. This bolt is me. How
did I fail to see, and how do the others go on
fitting bolts. Who else knows?
Who has seen? Who has heard? -- The emperor really is naked.
I see him. Why me? It's not for me. It's too big.
Rise and cry out. Rise and tell the people. You can.
I, the bolt, the technician, mechanic? -- Yes, you.
You are the secret agent of the people. You are the eyes of the nation.
Agent-spy, tell us what you've seen. Tell us what the insiders, the clever ones, have hidden from us.
Without you, there is only the precipice. Only catastrophe.
I have no choice. I'm a little man, a citizen, one of the people,
but I'll do what I have to. I've heard the voice of my conscience
and there's nowhere to hide.
The world is small, small for Big Brother.
I'm on your mission. I'm doing my duty. Take it from me.
Come and see for yourselves. Lighten my burden. Stop the train.
Get off the train. The next stop -- nuclear disaster. The next book,
the next machine. No. There is no such thing.
-1987, Ashkelon Prison.