Mordechai Vanunu, the Snowden of Israel

Mordechai Vanunu, the Snowden of Israel
Share this Story:

Mordechai Vanunu, the Snowden of Israel

By Eileen Fleming

Why Americans need to know about Mordechai Vanunu


“Snowden is the best example of what I did 27 years ago – when the government breaks the law and tramples on human rights, people talk. That’s what he did, he speaks for everyone, and that’s what I did – I spoke for everyone.”-Vanunu Mordechai, 25 December 2013 

VanunuPosterLast Christmas Day, Israel’s Nuclear Whistleblower’s 7th Supreme Court Appeal to leave Israel was heard and three days later denied.

In the British based New Statesman, Mehdi Hasan’s asked “who will speak for Israel’s Snowden” who he claims “has been ignored and forgotten.”

Ignored YES.

Forgotten NO and never- because everything is on the Internet!

Parts of Vanunu’s Appeals always take place only in the presence of the judges and state representatives-Vanunu has to leave the courtroom!

During Vanunu’s FREEDOM of SPEECH Trial that began in January 2006, he explained this peculiarity after it was revealed that Israel had asked Microsoft to hand over all the details of his Hotmail account suggesting that Vanunu was being investigated for espionage.


Vanunu wrote:

Microsoft obeyed the orders and gave them all the details, three months before I was arrested and my computers were confiscated. It is strange to ask Microsoft to give this information before obtaining the court order to listen to my private conversations. It means they wanted to go through my emails in secret, or maybe, with the help of the secret services, the Shaback, Mossad.

The State came to the court with two special secret Government orders; Hisaion [documents or information that are deemed confidential by the government and kept from the court, the defendant, and lawyers.]

This allows the prosecution to keep documents related to my court hearing secret. One was from the Minister for Interior Security and one from the Minister of Defense.

The policeman did not have any answers and said that he brought all the evidence to the court. When Sfard [Vanunu’s attorney] asked him again about any material related to the espionage charge, the policeman had no answers.

Sfard proved that the police had misled the judges who gave the orders to arrest me: to search my room, to go through my email, to confiscate my computers and misled Microsoft to believe they are helping in a case of espionage.

How I got involved in the Vanunu Saga began in 2005, while I was in the midst of writing my first historical novel inspired by the life of Dr. Khaled Diab, a 1948 refugee from the Upper Galilee who made his way to the USA and into a Top Secret position in the Defense Industry during the Cold War.

A few months prior, while researching online I read about Vanunu’s 1986 London Sunday Times front page story that published his photos of top secret locations and everything he knew as a technician on the night shift.

On the first day of summer in June 2005, as I was walking into St. Georges Cathedral in Jerusalem, Vanunu was on his way out.

As I was interested in his childhood and why he had become a Christian just a few weeks before being kidnapped by Mossad; and Vanunu loved to talk about Vanunu, over the next few days he talked and I wrote.


However, I became a reporter because he told me:

Did you know that President Kennedy tried to stop Israel from building atomic weapons? In 1963, he forced Prime Minister Ben Guirion to admit the Dimona was not a textile plant, as the sign outside proclaimed, but a nuclear plant. The Prime Minister said, ‘The nuclear reactor is only for peace.’

Kennedy insisted on an open internal inspection. He wrote letters demanding that Ben Guirion open up the Dimona for inspection. The French were responsible for the actual building of the Dimona. The Germans gave the money; they were feeling guilty for the Holocaust, and tried to pay their way out.

When Johnson became president, he made an agreement with Israel that two senators would come every year to inspect. Before the senators would visit, the Israelis would build a wall to block the underground elevators and stairways. From 1963 to ’69, the senators came, but they never knew about the wall that hid the rest of the Dimona from them.

Nixon stopped the inspections and agreed to ignore the situation. As a result, Israel increased production. In 1986, there were over two hundred bombs. Today, they may have enough plutonium for ten bombs a year.


Vanunu also told me, “All the secrets I had were published in 1989 in an important book, by [Nuclear Physicist] Frank Barnaby, ‘The Invisible Bomb: Nuclear Arms Race in the Middle East.’”


In 1986, Barnaby was hired by the London Sunday Times to vet Vanunu’s story and he testified at Vanunu’s closed door trial:

I found Vanunu very straightforward about his motives for violating Israel’s secrecy laws he explained to me that he believed that both the Israeli and the world public had the right to know about the information he passed on. He seemed to me to be acting ideologically.

Israel’s political leaders have, he said, consistently lied about Israel’s nuclear-weapons programme and he found this unacceptable in a democracy. The knowledge that Vanunu had about Israel’s nuclear weapons, about the operations at Dimona, and about security at Dimona could not be of any use to anyone today. He left Dimona in October 1985.

On 24 April 2004, which was three days after Vanunu was released from 18 years in a windowless tomb sized cell jail for providing the photographic proof and telling the truth about Israel’s clandestine seven story underground WMD Program in the Negev, Uri Avnery wrote:

Everybody understands that he has no more secrets. What can a technician know after 18 years in jail, during which technology has advanced with giant steps?

But gradually it becomes clear what the security establishment is really afraid of. Vanunu is in a position to expose the close partnership with the United States in the development of Israel’s nuclear armaments.

This worries Washington so much, that the man responsible in the State Department for ‘arms control’, Under-Secretary John Bolton, has come to Israel in person for the occasion. Vanunu, it appears, can cause severe damage to the mighty super-power.

The Americans, it seems, are very worried. The Israeli security services have to dance to their tune. The world must be prevented by all available means from hearing, from the lips of a credible witness, that the Americans are full partners in Israel’s nuclear arms program, while pretending to be the world’s sheriff for the prevention of nuclear proliferation.


Also in 2004, Yossi Melman wrote for Haaretz:

This is the secret that hasn’t yet been told in the affair: the story of the security fiasco that made it possible for Vanunu to do what he did, and the story of the subsequent attempts at cover-up, whitewashing and protection of senior figures in the defense establishment, who were bent on divesting themselves of responsibility for the failure.

The 18-year prison term to which Vanunu was sentenced is almost exactly the same period as that in which Yehiel Horev has served as chief of internal security in the defense establishment [who has been] involved in the affair as deputy chief of security at the Defense Ministry, and also after Vanunu’s abduction and arrest, as a member of an investigative commission.

Shortly after taking office as chief of security at the Defense Ministry, Horev began to take punitive measures to hobble Vanunu. He is responsible for the harsh conditions in which Vanunu was held, which included years in solitary confinement, and the sharp limitations on the number of visitors he could have…[and has fought] a rearguard battle to prevent Vanunu from leaving Israel and to place him under supervision and restrictions that will be tantamount to house arrest.

Horev has always been considered the strictest of all the security chiefs in Israel, especially in regard to the protection of institutions such as the Dimona facility and the Biological Institute. He is apprehensive that if Vanunu goes abroad, he will continue to be a nuisance by stimulating the public debate over Israel’s nuclear policy and the nuclear weapons he says Israel possesses.

All the hyperactivity being displayed by Horev and those who support his approach is intended only to divert attention from what has not yet been revealed: the security blunders and their cover-ups.

On 2 October 2009, The Washington Times reported that Obama agreed to keep Israel’s nukes ‘secret’ and reaffirmed a 4-decade-old understanding that has allowed Israel to keep a nuclear arsenal without opening it to international inspections.

Vanunu and Eileen, 24 Nov. 2013

I saw Vanunu for the last time a week before Thanksgiving.

He told me a reporter from CNN had recently asked him for an interview but Vanunu told him, “No, everything is already on the Internet.”

Beyond Nuclear: Mordechai Vanunu’s FREEDOM of Speech Trial and My Life as a Muckraker 2005-2010


Enhanced by Zemanta
Facebook Comments


Eileen Fleming

Senior Non-Arab Correspondent for TADN at The Arab Daily News
Senior Non-Arab Correspondent for The Arab Daily News
Producer "30 Minutes with Vanunu" who founded in response to her first of 8 trips to both sides of The Wall in Palestine Israel.
In 2012, Eileen ran for US House of Representatives District 5, in Fl.
Read her FREE eBooks and more at:
Share this Story: