A former Israeli nuclear technician revealed details of Israel’s nuclear weapons program to the British press in 1986. He was subsequently lured to Italy by a Mossad agent, where he was drugged and abducted by Israeli intelligence agents.
Mordechai Vanunu (Hebrew: מרדכי ואנונו; born 14 October 1954), also known as John Crossman, is a former Israeli nuclear technician who, citing his opposition to weapons of mass destruction, revealed details of Israel’s nuclear weapons program to the British press in 1986. He was subsequently lured to Italy by a Mossad agent, where he was drugged and abducted by Israeli intelligence agents. He was transported to Israel and ultimately convicted in a trial that was held behind closed doors.
Vanunu spent 18 years in prison, including more than 11 in solitary confinement. Released from prison in 2004, he became subject to a broad array of restrictions on his speech and movement. Since then he has been arrested several times for violations of those restrictions, including giving various interviews to foreign journalists and attempting to leave Israel. He says he suffered “cruel and barbaric treatment” at the hands of Israeli authorities while imprisoned, and suggests that his treatment would have been different if he had not converted to Christianity from Judaism.
In 2007, Vanunu was sentenced to six months in prison for violating terms of his parole. The sentence was considered unusual even by the prosecution who expected a suspended sentence. In response, Amnesty International issued a press release on 2 July 2007, stating that “The organisation considers Mordechai Vanunu to be a prisoner of conscience and calls for his immediate and unconditional release.” In May 2010, Vanunu was arrested and sentenced to three months in jail on suspicion that he met foreigners in violation of conditions of his 2004 release from jail.
Vanunu has been characterized internationally as a whistleblower and by Israel as a traitor. Daniel Ellsberg has referred to him as “the preeminent hero of the nuclear era”.