Journalist in Vanunu case barred from Israel as 'risk to security'

Peter Hounam, the journalist who published Mordechai Vanunu's disclosures about Israel's atomic weapons programme in 1986, has been barred from the country.

Peter Hounam, the journalist who published Mordechai Vanunu's disclosures about Israel's atomic weapons programme in 1986, has been barred from the country.

Meir Vanunu, the nuclear technician's brother, criticised the ruling as an attempt to prevent Mr Hounam testifying when the Israeli Supreme Court considers Mr Vanunu's appeal next week against a ban on leaving the country, imposed when he was freed in April after serving 18 years for espionage.

Mr Hounam, who worked for The Sunday Times, was deported last month after he made a BBC documentary, which included a clandestine interview with Mr Vanunu, who had been ordered not to speak to foreigners. Yael Lotan, an Israeli writer and anti-nuclear campaigner, interviewed Mr Vanunu but no new information was disclosed.

Since his release Mr Vanunu, who converted to Christianity before his abduction by Mossad agents in Rome and forced return to Israel, has been living in a hostel at St George's Anglican cathedral in Jerusalem. Right-wing extremists have made death threats so he seldom ventures outside.

An interior ministry spokes-woman claimed Mr Hounam was a danger to Israel's security and might prompt Mr Vanunu to reveal more secrets. Meir Vanunu dismissed this as ridiculous. "Mordechai has ... spoken to many people. If he still poses a danger, why do they let him meet them? Perhaps Peter Hounam would have helped expose how hollow the argument is."

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