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When will the hounding by the Israeli authorities of Mordechai Vanunu, the man who blew the whistle on Israel’s nuclear arsenal nearly thirty years ago stop? Not content with dragging him back to court since his release from prison in 2004, stripping him of his human rights and refusing to let him leave the country, he has now been presented with the bill for the legal costs of an Israeli newspaper when the court rejected his claim for libel against the newspaper, some ten years ago.

Mordechai sent out the following e-mail on 23rd March.“ Hi there,

I’m reaching out to ask for your support for the “Paying a libel suit to the Israel newspaper” campaign.

I found that I owed 100.000 Shekels to the Israel main newspaper Yediot Aharonot, because I lost a libel suit against them in 2005, and the judge awarded them 36,000 shekels, not only they are allowed to publish lies about me (that I am sending from prison instructions to the Palestinians how to make bombs), but also should pay them.  So he contacted the Lawyer of the newspaper, and they agree to reduce the amount to the verdict, that is 40.000 shekels.

So now I have to pay this amount before any future leaving Israel, any help from you are very welcome.

When donations exceed $10,000 Vanunu will use those funds for travelling around the world beginning the very day Israel allows Vanunu his human RIGHTS: Everyone has the right to leave…and to return to his country – Article13.2 UDHR. Everyone has the right to seek and to enjoy in other countries asylum from persecution- Article 14.1. Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion & expression…to seek, receive and impart info through any media – Article 19.

Thank you!

Vanunu Mordechai.”

The UK based Campaign for a Nuclear-Free Middle East write:

This is a little unclear, but the upshot is that Mordechai owes 40,000 shekels (£6806) to Yediot Aharanot – the court must have made an order against Mordechai to pay the newspaper’s legal costs when they threw out his claim for libel against the newspaper. These costs dating back 10 years are another millstone around Mordechai’s neck and we feel we must help him to raise the money to pay the fine.

Already Eileen Fleming, a supporter in America, has collected over $2,300, and we would hope that we can add a lot more to that amount from this appeal to our supporters.  The Campaign to Free Vanunu has agreed to start this off by donating £500 from our Vanunu fund, kept for just such an emergency as this. So we hope too that you will feel able to respond to Vanunu’s appeal, and if the
majority of you, on our mailing list, are prepared to donate even small amounts we should be able to help Mordechai to pay this malicious charge.

Mordechai’s is no longer able to open a bank account.  If this continues to be the case we will arrange to send whatever money we collect to the account of one of his colleagues or supporters in Israel. One way or another we will make sure that whatever money is collected will get to him.

Of course it is outrageous that the Israeli authorities continue to hound Mordechai 29 years after he was first charged with treason and sentenced to 18 years in prison for telling the truth about Israel’s possession of nuclear weapons.  He served his sentence; the harassment must stop and he should be allowed to leave Israel as is his wish.

Lastly, you might remember that last year we held a successful vigil of over 40 people at the Israeli embassy to mark the 10th year since Mordechai’s release from Ashkelon prison. This year we are thinking of returning to the Embassy on the Saturday closest to Mordechai’s birthday on October 13th, which would be October 10th. Please note the date in your diary and we will let you know in good time if we intend to go ahead with this action.

All cheques should be made out to: The Mordechai Vanunu Trust and sent to Ernest Rodker, 28 Wandle Road, London SW17 7DW.

See Richard Norton Taylor’s Guardian article on 27 April at:

Update 23 May. Thanks to generous donations Mordechai has been able to pay these costs, so for now another threat has been dealt with. No doubt there will be more!