Vanunu is a prisoner of conscience’

Vanunu is a prisoner of conscience’

Source: Press TV

Amnesty International has criticized Israel for sending nuclear whistleblower Mordechai Vanunu back to prison.

“Mordechai Vanunu should not be in prison at all, let alone be held in solitary confinement in a unit intended for violent criminals,” said Malcolm Smart, the London-based rights group’s Middle East program director, AFP reported.

In 1986, the nuclear technician was sentenced to 18 years in prison for exposing details about Israel’s nuclear program and the military activities at the Dimona nuclear facility, where he was a worker, which provided convincing evidence that Israel possessed a nuclear arsenal.

Vanunu, who is now 55 years old, was released from prison on probation in 2004, after serving his 18-year sentence, but has been arrested several times for allegedly violating the terms of his release.

Most recently, an Israeli court said he had to either perform community service or go back to prison for allegedly meeting with a foreign national, which is not permitted in the terms of his release.

He was forced to serve time when the Israeli supreme court refused to allow him to perform the compulsory labor in East al-Quds (Jerusalem), where he had requested to do the work in order to avoid the risk of being harassed by Israelis.

“Mordechai Vanunu is a prisoner of conscience,” said Smart. “He suffered immensely when he was held in solitary confinement for 11 years after his imprisonment in 1986 and to return him to such conditions now is nothing less than cruel, inhuman or degrading.”

“His re-imprisonment is both harsh and unjustified,” he added.

In late May, when Vanunu began to serve his three-month sentence, the Israeli newspaper Ha’aretz quoted him as saying, “Everyone knows that Israel has nuclear weapons… but no one is talking about it.”

Construction work began on Dimona in 1958, and Israel is believed to have manufactured scores of nuclear warheads since the 1960s.

Former US President Jimmy Carter has said that Israel possesses between 200 and 300 nuclear warheads.

However, Tel Aviv has maintained a policy of “nuclear ambiguity” in which it neither confirms nor denies having nuclear weapons.

HN/HGL

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