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Israeli nuclear whistleblower back in jail

An Israeli nuclear whistleblower, who served 18 years in prison for revealing state secrets, returned to prison today after failing to report for community service as part of a sentence.

world Updated: May 25, 2010 13:33 IST

An Israeli nuclear whistleblower, who served 18 years in prison for revealing state secrets, returned to prison today after failing to report for community service as part of a sentence.

Mordechai Vanunu was taken into custody after failing to report for community service in a Jewish neighbourhood as part of a sentence handed out by a court few months back for violating the terms of his 2004 release.

Vanunu had requested to be allowed to do community work in Arab neighbourhoods of east Jerusalem and petitioned the Supreme Court for such an arrangement saying "he would be in danger working among Jews".

The court turned down his petition sending him back to prison for three more months.

Vanunu was released form in 2004 after serving an 18 year sentence, mostly in solitary confinement, for treason and espionage after he revealed the secrets of the Dimona nuclear plant to The Sunday Times of London in 1986.

The Israeli government immediately imposed severe restrictions on him which included a ban on leaving the country and meeting foreigners.

In 2007 he was arrested and accused of giving interviews to foreign media, including the BBC and The Sunday Times.

About six months ago, he was arrested again during a meeting with a Norwegian woman in Jerusalem's Ambassador Hotel, which his lawyer described as a relation between "a man and a woman".

After a long court battle he was found guilty of contacting a foreigner without authorisation, but his lawyers managed to have his sentence reduced to three months in jail and the remaining in community service.

An undeterred Vanunu today read out a message to the press at the entrance to the court condemning Israel's espionage agencies, Mossad and Shin Bet.

"What you didn't receive in the 18 years that I sat in prison, you won't get now in three months. You want to teach me a lesson? I cannot accept any violation of my freedom of expression," he said.

Reading from a pre-prepared note vowed to protect his freedom of expression despite the world at large not giving him a supportive hand.

"Shame on you, Israel, and the stupid Shin Bet and Mossad spies who are returning me to jail after 24 years in which I have spoken only the truth. Shame on you, democracy, the Knesset, synagogues, the world media.

"...shame on you, all the Arabs who are allowing me to return to jail. Shame on you, US Senate and Congress and International Atomic Energy Agency Chairman Mohammad ElBaradei for not safeguarding my freedom. Shame on you, all religions, the stupid Jewish, Christian, and Muslim spies," Vanunu said.

"Freedom is a basic part of human rights. I am not an animal. You punished me in the past, but I cannot accept a violation of my freedom of expression," he emphasised.

He also denounced the Israeli media in his message.

"The Israeli media is all stupid. Half are spies and half are spies' puppets," Vanunu alleged.