Vanunu rearrested for talking to foreign press

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The Independent Online

Israeli police yesterday rearrested Mordechai Vanunu, the nuclear whistleblower, on suspicion of passing confidential material to unauthorised persons since his release from prison in April.

Detectives raided his room in the hostel of St George's Anglican Cathedral in East Jerusalem. A police spokesman said they took away papers and a computer. Mr Vanunu, a former technician at Israel's Dimona nuclear reactor, was brought before a magistrate last night and released on bail.

He was freed this year after serving an 18-year sentence for disclosing Israeli nuclear secrets to The Sunday Times.

Israel has barred him from leaving the country for 12 months or talking to foreign media, but he has given interviews to The Sunday Times, the BBC and a Greek radio station. In one of these he said: "There are still nuclear weapons materials in Israel, and I believe that during the past 18 years more have been built." He urged the United States to press Israel to give up the bomb.

Police sources said yesterday: "Vanunu has flagrantly violated the conditions of his release. Something must be done to stop this."

Yael Lotan, an Israeli writer and anti-nuclear campaigner who conducted the BBC interview, said that she was "profoundly disappointed" that the security services had not finished playing cat-and-mouse with Mr Vanunu. "We thought that finally the Israeli government realised that he has nothing more to add to what he's already said."

Ms Lotan accused the authorities of taking advantage of Yasser Arafat's death to divert attention from the latest arrest.