Israeli government accused of intimidation over Vanunu arrest - news from ekklesia

By staff writers
November 15, 2004

Israeli government accused of intimidation over Vanunu arrest

-15/11/04

The Israeli government has been accused of intimidation in ordering more than 30 heavily armed police commandos to raid St Georgeís Anglican Cathedral in Jerusalem and to arrest the nuclear whistleblower Mordechai Vanunu, reports the Sunday Times.

The Bishop of Jerusalem has described how heavily armed police commandos stormed his Jerusalem church compound and arrested Vanunu, well known for his Christian faith, for allegedly revealing classified information, seven months after he completed an 18-year prison sentence for treason.

Vanunu has now been released on bail on condition that he remain under ìhouse arrestî at the cathedral.

Avigdor Feldman, Vanunu's lawyer, said that the authorities had found nothing incriminating when they ransacked his room. ìPeople are seeking revenge,î he said.

ìMordechai has made it plain that he revealed all he knew when he spoke to The Sunday Times in 1986. Some of the people behind this intimidation must be intellectually challenged if they cannot see it is counterproductive and that he should be free to leave the country.î

Feldman said that when he finally managed to see Vanunu he found him upset after 10 hours of interrogation by a police international crimes unit but ìcharacteristically defiantî.

ìThey attempted to persuade Mordechai to obey a ban on speaking to foreigners, but he refused,î Feldman said.

After appearing before a magistrate, Vanunu was released on bail on condition that he remain under ìhouse arrestî at the cathedral for the next seven days.

Feldman said that warrants to search his room there and arrest him had been issued by a judge some time ago but police had waited until last Thursday, the day of Yasser Arafatís death, to act.

ìThey were hoping to minimise publicity,î the lawyer added.

In 1986 Vanunu was kidnapped by Israeli secret agents and sentenced to 18 years in prison for treason and aggravated espionage after revealing the inner secrets of Israelís Dimona nuclear weapons plant to this newspaper.

Since his release last April Vanunu, a Christian, has sought sanctuary at the cathedral after receiving death threats. He is banned from leaving the country, from going near ports and airports and from communicating with non-Israelis, but he has repeatedly ignored the latter rule. On October 24 he gave a live interview by satellite on Breakfast with Frost, the BBC TV programme.

As last weekís raid began the cathedral was sealed off by a police cordon. But before the officers stormed into his room, Vanunu managed to telephone Feldmanís office.

Furious at the intrusion, the bishop, the Right Rev Riah Abu El-Assal, insisted that all police with guns should leave immediately, to which they agreed. Officers seized Vanunuís laptop and personal papers before taking him away for questioning.

The bishop had been preparing to leave for Cairo to attend Arafatís funeral but sent letters to church leaders, including the Archbishop of Canterbury, seeking their support and condemning the Israeli governmentís actions.

ìIn the 100 years of the cathedralís history, such an event has never taken place. It is a sacred place and should be respected,î he said.

After being released on bail Vanunu told reporters that he would continue to speak to foreign media organisations.

He claimed that Yehiel Horev, a senior official at the Israeli defence ministry who was in charge of protecting weapons secrets, had an obsession about him.

A police representative said that Vanunu had been under surveillance for some time.

The Israeli embassy in London claimed that Vanunu had ìconsistently violatedî the restrictions placed on him and that this had been done ìwith the full knowledge of his hosts in St Georgeís Cathedralî.

Israeli government accused of intimidation over Vanunu arrest

-15/11/04

The Israeli government has been accused of intimidation in ordering more than 30 heavily armed police commandos to raid St Georgeís Anglican Cathedral in Jerusalem and to arrest the nuclear whistleblower Mordechai Vanunu, reports the Sunday Times.

The Bishop of Jerusalem has described how heavily armed police commandos stormed his Jerusalem church compound and arrested Vanunu, well known for his Christian faith, for allegedly revealing classified information, seven months after he completed an 18-year prison sentence for treason.

Vanunu has now been released on bail on condition that he remain under ìhouse arrestî at the cathedral.

Avigdor Feldman, Vanunu's lawyer, said that the authorities had found nothing incriminating when they ransacked his room. ìPeople are seeking revenge,î he said.

ìMordechai has made it plain that he revealed all he knew when he spoke to The Sunday Times in 1986. Some of the people behind this intimidation must be intellectually challenged if they cannot see it is counterproductive and that he should be free to leave the country.î

Feldman said that when he finally managed to see Vanunu he found him upset after 10 hours of interrogation by a police international crimes unit but ìcharacteristically defiantî.

ìThey attempted to persuade Mordechai to obey a ban on speaking to foreigners, but he refused,î Feldman said.

After appearing before a magistrate, Vanunu was released on bail on condition that he remain under ìhouse arrestî at the cathedral for the next seven days.

Feldman said that warrants to search his room there and arrest him had been issued by a judge some time ago but police had waited until last Thursday, the day of Yasser Arafatís death, to act.

ìThey were hoping to minimise publicity,î the lawyer added.

In 1986 Vanunu was kidnapped by Israeli secret agents and sentenced to 18 years in prison for treason and aggravated espionage after revealing the inner secrets of Israelís Dimona nuclear weapons plant to this newspaper.

Since his release last April Vanunu, a Christian, has sought sanctuary at the cathedral after receiving death threats. He is banned from leaving the country, from going near ports and airports and from communicating with non-Israelis, but he has repeatedly ignored the latter rule. On October 24 he gave a live interview by satellite on Breakfast with Frost, the BBC TV programme.

As last weekís raid began the cathedral was sealed off by a police cordon. But before the officers stormed into his room, Vanunu managed to telephone Feldmanís office.

Furious at the intrusion, the bishop, the Right Rev Riah Abu El-Assal, insisted that all police with guns should leave immediately, to which they agreed. Officers seized Vanunuís laptop and personal papers before taking him away for questioning.

The bishop had been preparing to leave for Cairo to attend Arafatís funeral but sent letters to church leaders, including the Archbishop of Canterbury, seeking their support and condemning the Israeli governmentís actions.

ìIn the 100 years of the cathedralís history, such an event has never taken place. It is a sacred place and should be respected,î he said.

After being released on bail Vanunu told reporters that he would continue to speak to foreign media organisations.

He claimed that Yehiel Horev, a senior official at the Israeli defence ministry who was in charge of protecting weapons secrets, had an obsession about him.

A police representative said that Vanunu had been under surveillance for some time.

The Israeli embassy in London claimed that Vanunu had ìconsistently violatedî the restrictions placed on him and that this had been done ìwith the full knowledge of his hosts in St Georgeís Cathedralî.

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