Israel re-arrests whistleblower Vanunu

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The Independent Online

Nuclear whistle blower Mordechai Vanunu was arrested today for allegedly revealing classified information, seven months after he completed an 18-year prison sentence for treason, police said.

Nuclear whistle blower Mordechai Vanunu was arrested today for allegedly revealing classified information, seven months after he completed an 18-year prison sentence for treason, police said.

Police spokesman Gil Kleiman said Vanunu was detained at his rented rooms in Jerusalem's St. George's church, but declined to discuss the nature of his alleged disclosures or to whom he made them.

"Vanunu was arrested late this morning," Kleiman said, adding that police removed papers and a computer from his rooms.

Vanunu, 49, was released from prison in April after 18 years, much of it in solitary confinement, for disclosing secrets he learned as a technician at the Israeli nuclear reactor in the southern town of Dimona in the 1980s.

He has acknowledged violating his release arrangement which barred him from meeting foreigners or discussing his work at Dimona, but said he had no more classified information to reveal.

Vanunu was convicted in 1988 for divulging information and pictures of the Dimona reactor. The details, published in London's Sunday Times, led experts to conclude that Israel has the world's sixth-largest stockpile of nuclear weapons, including hundreds of warheads.

Israel has followed a policy of nuclear ambiguity, neither confirming nor denying it has nuclear weapons.

Vanunu, a convert to Christianity, became a hero to peace activists for his role in unveiling Israel's nuclear program.

Peter Hounam, the Sunday Times journalist who published Vanunu's nuclear revelations, said he was "horrified" by Vanunu's arrest, and accused the Israeli authorities of using Thursday's death of Palestinian Leader Yasser Arafat to try to divert attention from it.

"I think they deliberately waited until Arafat died," he told The Associated Press from England. "But I don't think they will succeed because people all over the world will ask why Israel is being so vindictive."

In an AP interview in September, Vanunu said he wanted to replace his Israeli citizenship with a foreign one, perhaps Palestinian.

"In Israel, I am regarded as a traitor ... and since my release they are not respecting my human rights, my freedom of speech my freedom of movement," he said.

He said he planned to continue his anti-nuclear campaign, but he had no more secrets to reveal. "All I knew was published 18 years ago," he said.

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