Vanunu held after meeting with Norwegian woman

By Jessica Elgot, December 29, 2009
Mordechai Vanunu

Mordechai Vanunu

Israeli nuclear whistleblower Mordechai Vanunu has admitted breaking terms of his release from prison.

Mr Vanunu, a former technician at the Negev Nuclear Research Centre, leaked details and pictures of Israel’s nuclear operation to the Sunday Times in 1986, leading experts to conclude that Israel had the world’s sixth largest nuclear arsenal.

He was kidnapped in Rome by the Israeli secret service, and then served 18 years in jail for treason and espionage. He was released in 2004 but is banned from any contact with foreign nationals or media.

Jerusalem police spokesman Mickey Rosenfeld said Mr Vanunu had been arrested after he was suspected of meeting with foreigners, a charge he later admitted in court.

Mr Vanunu met a Norwegian woman at Jerusalem’s Ambassador Hotel, where he is currently living, but his lawyer Avigdor Feldman said Mr Vanunu was in a relationship with the woman, and the meeting had “nothing to do with espionage”.

Police also said they had found several letters sent to Mr Vanunu from the United States, leading them to believe he had been in contact outside Israel.

Jerusalem Magistrate’s court fined him £1,600 and placed under house arrest until the Norwegian woman gave testimony to the court.

Since his release from jail, Mr Vanunu has been in court several times for parole violations.

The convicted spy is currently banned from discussing Israel’s nuclear capacity since his release from jail. In June, Interior Minister Eli Yishai extended a ban on Mr Vanunu leaving Israel for a fourth year.

Last updated: 1:50pm, December 31 2009