Hounam attacks Israel over new jail threat to Vanunu

By Dominic Ponsford

Sunday Times journalist Peter Hounam is to a launch a new bid to
overcome his ban on entering Israel as nuclear whistle- bower Mordechai
Vanunu faces the prospect of a return to prison.

Vanunu was released in April 2004 after spending 18 years in jail
for revealing to Hounam and the Sunday Times that Israel had a secret
nuclear weapons programme.

Vanunu was banned from speaking to
foreign journalists or leaving Israel upon his release, but Hounam
obtained the first interview with him for the Sunday Times and the BBC
by using an Israeli journalist as an intermediary.

After being arrested by Israeli police, and leaving Israel in May, Hounam has been refused re-entry to the country.

Last Thursday, 22 new indictments were filed against Vanunu which could see him put back in jail.

One
charge said Vanunu had made new nuclear revelations to a British
journalist in July. According to the Sunday Times he has revealed
nothing that was not in the original story of 1986.

Another
indictment said Vanunu had told Sky TV’s Adam Boulton that he was
deliberately violating the government restrictions imposed on him in
order to make his case.

Hounam told Press Gazette: “This is
another example of the Israeli authorities trying to persecute this
guy. There’s a particular senior official in the ministry of defence
who’s been conducting a sort of vendetta against Vanunu for many years.

“The
lawyers acting for Vanunu are going to ask for the restrictions on me
to be lifted so I can go back and help him with the case.

“We
made sure an Israeli journalist did the interview with Vanunu and I
don’t know why that is seen as an infringement of the regulations.”

The International Federation of Journalists this week accused Israel of bullying and intimidating Vanunu.

General secretary Aidan White said: “Israel is creating a new crime – of talking to journalists.

“It
is a shocking betrayal of democratic principle in what is a vindictive
campaign of bullying and intimidation against a man who has served his
time.

“This man has paid a heavy price for his original offence,
which itself was punitive and unjustified. Israel has got to come to
terms with the reality that its secret is out. The authorities need to
get over it and allow Vanunu to go free.”

Herald backs whistle-blower

CAMPAIGN OF SUPPORT LAUNCHED

The Herald has launched a campaign in support of Vanunu, who was
recently elected rector of Glasgow University. Three days before Vanunu
was charged with violating the terms of his release he gave an
interview to Herald report Billy Griggs.

Herald editor Mark Douglas-Home said: “We would like readers to
write to the Israeli government to protest against the treatment of Mr
Vanunu. He is living under intolerable restrictions and would dearly
like to leave Israel. He should be allowed to do so. Freedom of
movement is his human right.”

In a full-page spread, Vanunu told
The Herald he had received hundreds of messages from Scotland which
gave him hope during his lowest moments in prison.

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