Mordechai Vanunu sent back to prison

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Mordechai Vanunu, the nuclear whistleblower who spent 18 years in prison, went back to jail yesterday for violating the terms of his parole.

Vanunu has been barred from leaving the country or meeting with foreigners since he was released from prison in 2004. In December, Israeli authorities arrested Vanunu, accusing him of having contact with a number of foreigners, including journalists, and a Norwegian woman whom Vanunu said was his girlfriend. Israel's prison service said he would serve three months.

"Shame on you Israel for putting me in prison after 24 years of speaking the truth," Vanunu said outside the courthouse yesterday. He criticised what he called "stupid" Israeli institutions, and Arab and international bodies he said should have protected him.

"Shame on you all the world media. for not protecting freedom of speech," he said.

Vanunu was a low-level technician at an Israeli nuclear plant who leaked details and pictures of the clandestine operation to The Sunday Times of London in 1986. Foreign experts who reviewed the material concluded that Israel had a formidable nuclear arsenal.

Israeli intelligence agents kidnapped him in Rome and brought him back to Israel to stand trial. Vanunu served 11 years of his 18-year sentence in solitary confinement. Israel has neither acknowledged nor denied having nuclear weapons. ap