Mordechai Vanunu

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Person.png Mordechai Vanunu   WebsiteRdf-entity.pngRdf-icon.png
2 days after his release from 18 years in Jail in April 2004
Marrakesh, French Morocco
ReligionChristian convert from Judaism
ExposedIsrael/Nuclear Weapons
Victim of • “Extraordinary rendition”
• Torture
The 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 captured by Mossad, kidnapped and subsequently imprisoned for 18 years, including 11 years in solitary confinement. He continues to be subject to harrassment and forbidden to speak to foreigners or to leave Israel.

Mordechai Vanunu exposed Israel's nuclear weapons program in 1986.


Vanunu was lured to Italy by Cheryl Ben-Tov, a Mossad agent, where he was drugged and transported to Israel and convicted in a trial that was held behind closed doors. He has been nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize many times.

Secret Trial and Imprisonment

Vanunu spent 18 years in prison, including more than 11 years in solitary confinement. Released from prison in 2004, he was subjected to a broad array of restrictions on his speech and movement. Since then he has been briefly arrested several times for violations of those restrictions, including giving various interviews to foreign journalists and attempting to leave Israel. He says that 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 been Jewish (Vanunu is a Christian convert from Judaism).

Continued harrassment and confinement

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, violating conditions of his 2004 release from jail.


On 26 May 2015 Vanunu married long-time Norwegian acquaintance, Professor of theology, Kristin Joachimsen, at the Lutheran Church of the Redeemer in Jerusalem [1]. It was his association with Prof Joachimsen that earned him a further term of imprisonment in 2010 because it was deemed to be in violation of his parole terms which forbid any association with foreigners. As of May 2015, his parole terms have not changed and he is still forbidden to leave the country.

Daniel Ellsberg has referred to Mordechai Vanunu as "the preeminent hero of the nuclear era".


Related Document

TitleTypePublication dateAuthor(s)Description
File:Critical Technology Assessment.pdfReportApril 1987Clarence A Robinson
Edwin S. Townsley
US Institute for Defense Analysis assessment of the technologies of Israel and NATO nations - including nuclear weapons capailities. Declassified in March 2015 with all but the Israeli sections remaining redacted.
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