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Israeli Court Says Nuclear Whistleblower a Danger - 2004-07-26

Israel's top court ruled that Mordechai Vanunu, who once exposed the country's secret nuclear program, is still a danger to national security and must be denied more freedom. The decision followed an appeal against his restrictions by the former employee at Israel's secret nuclear facility, who was released from jail earlier this year.

The Israeli Supreme Court said it accepted the claims of the security establishment that Vanunu stills know more about the country's secret nuclear program than he has disclosed. The court said that if the current restrictions on his movements and speech were lifted, he would disclose the information to the outside world.

The three-judge panel gave its ruling in response to a petition against the restrictions by Vanunu, who was released three-months ago after serving an 18-year sentence for treason and espionage.

Following the decision, Vanunu again complained of unfair treatment by the Israeli authorities.

"All the world can see the true face of Israeli justice and Israeli democracy. This decision of the court giving power to the government to not respect the human rights, the freedom of speech, freedom of movement - the basics of any democracy in all the world," he said. "What we are saying all the time is that Israel is not a true democracy, and today we are seeing it inside the Supreme Court of Israel. They are following the government's orders and from my point of view that is very shameful for Israel's democracy."

Vanunu, a former technician at Israel's secret Dimona nuclear facility, is regarded by most Israelis as a traitor. He is despised by many of his fellow citizens for an interview he gave to London's Sunday Times newspaper in 1986 about the site in the southern Negev desert.

Based on his information, some foreign arms experts concluded that Israel had produced as many as 300 atomic warheads and had the capacity to build even more.

Following his release, Israel banned Vanunu from leaving the country or speaking to foreign media.

Legal commentators say he could be charged with breaching his conditions over an interview published on Sunday in the London based Arabic newspaper Al-Hayat.