- The Washington Times - Monday, April 30, 2007

JERUSALEM (Agence France-Presse) — A court yesterday convicted nuclear whistleblower Mordechai Vanunu, who once served 18 years in prison, of violating a ban on leaving Israel and contacting foreign journalists.

The Jerusalem Magistrates Court found Vanunu guilty of violating the bans imposed on him by having contacts with foreign journalists and trying to leave Jerusalem to visit Bethlehem, a Justice Ministry spokesman said.

Vanunu, who was released from prison in 2004, is due to be sentenced in two weeks, the spokesman said.

The former technician has made repeated appeals to the Supreme Court to secure the lifting of the restrictions, which are renewable every 12 months, on his freedom of movement, going abroad and speaking to foreign journalists without permission.

The Interior Ministry opposes any concessions on the grounds he could leak more secrets from his time as an employee at the Dimona nuclear reactor, should he be allowed to leave the country.

Vanunu served 18 years in prison for lifting the lid on the inner workings of Israel’s Dimona nuclear plant to Britain’s Sunday Times newspaper.

He became something of an international cause celebre during his time in prison. At home, he is still widely reviled for converting to Christianity shortly before he was kidnapped in Italy and imprisoned in 1986 after being covertly shipped back to the Jewish state.

Israel is widely thought to be the only nuclear power in the Middle East, with about 200 nuclear warheads, but has a policy of neither confirming nor denying its arsenal.

The Jewish state has refused to sign the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty or allow international inspections of Dimona, in the southern Negev desert.

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