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Interview with Mordechai Vanunu

N Interview with Mordechai Vanunu
AMY GOODMAN, 19.08.2004 00:55

“So I am ready to speak because I used all my fight and want in seventeen and a half years in prison was the demand for freedom of speech. I believe the human being have the right to freedom of speech. I don't have any secrets. All what I'm speaking about is my view. My political view as a human has a right to express his view in any subject.?

to 1985. He worked there at a time when Israel was insisting it would not be the first to introduce nuclear weapons to the Middle East. What Vanunu discovered is that Israel had secretly developed an extensive nuclear program, hiding its existence from the Israeli people and parliament, and the world.
Vanunu leaked information and photos of Israel's nuclear weapons program to the Sunday Times in London. He was subsequently kidnapped by Israeli spy agency Mossad in Italy and then jailed. He would go on to spend 18 years behind bars including 11 in solitary confinement.
He was released on April 21 under strict government restrictions.
Democracy Now!'s Amy Goodman reached Vanunu on his cell phone in East Jerusalem where he has been staying since his release in April. He defied the Israeli government's restriction on speaking with foreigners to talk with us.
The nationally syndicated radio and TV program Democracy Now! aired the first part of its interview with Vanunu on its Aug. 18th broadcast. (The remaining portions of the interview will be aired on Aug. 19th)
Below is a transcript of the first part of the interview.
AMY GOODMAN: Hello? Is this Mordechai Vanunu?
MORDECHAI VANUNU: Yes.
AMY GOODMAN: Hi. This is Amy Goodman from Democracy Now! And I would like to be able to talk to you. We are a public radio and television program in the United States.
MORDECHAI VANUNU: Good evening.
AMY GOODMAN: It's good to be with you.
MORDECHAI VANUNU: Yes.
AMY GOODMAN: How does it feel to be free? How does it feel to be out of prison?
MORDECHAI VANUNU: Well it is wonderful to be free. But I am not allowed to speak to foreigners and I am not allowed to leave the country. So I'm not so happy. But on the other side I am very glad that I can at least enjoy some freedom.
AMY GOODMAN: The Israeli government has called you a traitor. What is your response to that?
MORDECHAI VANUNU: Well, I answer this. When I get out of the prison, I am saying many, many times that I am very glad, happy and proud to reveal its nuclear secrets to all the world and to let all the world to see the stupidity of Israel's nuclear weapons policy and the danger of a nuclear weapons policy in secret by Israel. And I was not a traitor. The real traitors are Israel's government who was behind this nuclear weapons policy for 40 years, and continues. They are betraying the Israeli citizens, and betraying the Arab community, and betraying all of humanity and the world, the human beings of all the world. They are the real traitors.
AMY GOODMAN: What are the secrets that you reveal that you think were most significant?
MORDECHAI VANUNU: Excuse me, but I could not understand, hear you.
AMY GOODMAN: Can you explain, Mordechai Vanunu, the secrets you feel were most significant for the world to know? You were imprisoned 18 years ago. Can you say what you were trying to reveal to the world?
MORDECHAI VANUNU: Well, it was very open and very clear: the secrets that were published by the Sunday Times in 1986. The main points were: one, the amount of Israel's nuclear weapons, how many Israel had, that no one could predict or know, including the CIA. They were thinking about a number like 10 or 15. But I came out with a number between 150 to 200. Second point is no one here could predict or know that Israel was involved or started producing the hydrogen bomb -- the most advanced and powerful atomic bomb that can kill millions of people. And that has no justification -- no need for Israel's existence. They don't need hydrogen bomb. That was my revelation that was proved, with photos, to all of the world. That was the very important news that I brought to the world.
AMY GOODMAN: And how did you know this?
MORDECHAI VANUNU: I knew that because I worked in the place, in the building where my job was producing the materials for nuclear weapons. My job was to produce plutonium that was used for atomic bomb. I knew how much they produced every day, every year. So I could make out the amount and see exactly how many bombs can they do. I also was producing, working on other materials for the hydrogen bomb. They call it lithium-6 and tritium. I was working on these and the only use for lithium-6 is the hydrogen bomb. And I also take photos of hydrogen bomb, from another part of the building. It was not part of my job, but I succeeded to go and take photos of the hydrogen bomb. My revelation was Israel [had] started producing a neutron bomb. I succeed to take photograph of the model of the neutron bomb. This means Israel was ready to use nuclear weapons in the next war, in 1986 if it had war with Iraq, or Iran or Syria. It could use them against armies. That means the beginning by Israel using atomic bomb.... That was the most dangerous point in the Middle East: Israel, they could have used nuclear weapons like no other state there...
AMY GOODMAN: So, Mordechai Vanunu, you say that they had 150 to 200 atomic bombs, that they had developed them. That they were building a hydrogen bomb, and a neutron bomb?
MORDECHAI VANUNU: Yes.
AMY GOODMAN: And have they done that at this point? It's 18 years later.
MORDECHAI VANUNU: I don't know what they did in 18 years. We can just assume they have much more and powerful, more advanced technology, all the new computers, everything could be much more easier and help them to build much more and many more nuclear weapons. I just assume. I don't have any new information, what happened in 18 years.
AMY GOODMAN: Can you describe what you did at that point? You took photographs, you wanted to get the information out. How did you end up doing that? And how did you end up being captured?
MORDECHAI VANUNU: When I worked in Dimona in 1980's, I decided I was going to bring this information to the world. Because they were lying, cheating and no one predicted or knew what exactly was happening. So, all the information was in my brain. In my mind. I worked every day there, so I knew all the details. But I needed only some proof. So the proof was photos. I smuggled the camera, it was no problem to smuggle the camera there. And I took 60 photos, two films, during the time when there was no one in the control room, in the building. Night shift or Saturday shift there are less people. After that I didn't develop the films. I keep them closed because I knew that if I develop them, someone can report me to the Shin Bet. So I decided the only place I can speak to the world is from outside Israel. So decided immediately to leave Israel as soon as possible. And with the two films went on my way towards the United States. But I decided then to take them to the far east because I knew with speaking these secrets there would be danger to my life and could end my freedom. So that was then. And I also did not have much experience with the media. But on the way, I met someone who brought me to the Sunday Times. And the Sunday Times made the story. And I gave them the films, the photos. And that's how we had the Sunday Times article.
AMY GOODMAN: And how, Mordechai Vanunu, were you ultimately captured?
MORDECHAI VANUNU: When they heard, when they receive the information about what I am doing in London. Even before London they come, two agents of the Mossad come to Sydney, Australia, when I first meet Peter Hounam, the Sunday Times journalist, they started to follow me. They continued to follow me in London and tried to stop the article by all they could do. So, what they decide to do is to kidnap me. The way is to send someone to bring me to Rome, because they did not want to kidnap me in England. They sent an agent, a woman and American citizen working for some US secret organization. They used her. They convinced her to bring me to Rome. I decided that I should leave London because I knew that they followed me in London. I said I should run away from London. So after the Sunday Times published the article I decided to go with her to Rome. When we arrived to Rome, they were waiting for me in her home, and immediately they jump on me and drug me and took me by car from that home to an abandoned ditch -- where there was a yacht waiting in the sea. From the sea came a boat with some Israeli commando soldiers who took me by the commando boat to the yacht and put me on the yacht. In the yacht I asked people, who are you. And they said we are Israelis, French and British. I saw French men who speak only French, I saw Israeli men who speak English, I never saw any British. But they say there are British. There are much more involved. Many more countries involved in the kidnapping. Like, the Italian driver who drove us from the airport, the American woman, Cindy. She is not Jewish. She is not an Israeli woman. She is an American woman from Philadelphia. All these, this cartel of spies who kidnapped me was the same group also involved in the nuclear proliferation during the Cold War. They tried to [inaudible] the man who tried to reveal their nuclear proliferation to Israel and to try and stop this nuclear proliferation. So they kidnapped me and sent me back to Israel. Israel silenced me for 18 years.
AMY GOODMAN: Do you know Cindy's full name?
MORDECHAI VANUNU: No. She just used the name Cindy. But if there is any real investigation, they can go to the British airport and find the files they filled in 1986 in October. The airplane is British Airways Flight 405 to Rome. There are files that can reveal her own identity. I have the airplane ticket from London to Rome with her signature. But Israel's Shin Bet, the Mossad do not want to give it to me. They are holding it [inaudible] at the moment.
AMY GOODMAN: So you weren't suspicious of her from the beginning? Are you saying that she lured you with a physical relationship?
MORDECHAI VANUNU: I wasn't suspecting her, because I thought what they can do in Rome they can do anywhere. They should not bring me to Rome. But her task was to lure me to Rome. And I went with her to Rome.
AMY GOODMAN: So, when they captured you, you contend that they drugged you, they brought you to Israel. Talk about the famous photograph of you in the back of an Israeli vehicle with your hand up. You'd written a number on it.
MORDECHAI VANUNU: When I arrived to Israel, they told me you are not allowed to speak about the kidnapping, just secret. I was very angry. I don't accept such rule. I said the kidnapping is a crime. I have the right to speak about the crime done against me. They didn't like me to speak about this crime. So I decided to reveal it to the public. I also was worried that they are spreading lies. They tried to say that I wasn't kidnapped. I'd come back. It means if I'd come back to Israel, it means I was a spy, a Mossad spy who had revealed some secret and come back. So the kidnapping is the proof that what I said was true... So I decided to let the world know this truth. So when I had the opportunity to come to talk to public after 7 weeks in the ShinBet jail, I wrote on my palm hand, Vanunu Mordechai kidnapped in Rome. So I used the word hijacked, not kidnapping, because I didn't know English very well at the time. And then we now added to the press, I put my palm on the ground, and they saw the message. And that message destroyed another conspiracy to cheat the CIA and many [others] who didn't know the truth about how I ended up in Israel. And those spies who kidnapped me tried to save their face or their game, their spy game, by cheating the world telling them the men who kidnapped you would return. So I destroyed another cheating by the palm hand destroyed by a very big game.
AMY GOODMAN: We are talking to Mordechai Vanunu, who is speaking out for the first time on a national broadcast in the United States on Democracy Now!, the largest public media collaboration in the country. You were imprisoned for 18 years. Can you talk about your treatment in jail.
MORDECHAI VANUNU: Well, the Shabak Mossad, ShinBet Mossad were very very angry upset with my revelations. After making a mockery [of them] to all the world... They were very angry and they tried to destroy this man who made them zero in all the world. The spy organization who was respected in all the world find themselves naked. So they decided to get him to give themselves the chance to change this man to destroy him to make him ... to prove that they are still strong, this spy organization. So from the beginning they put me in total isolation for seven weeks after my kidnapping they even didn't admit I am in an Israeli prison. No one knows where I am. Only by my standing against the judge and all the Israelis who wanted to keep me in administrative arrest. I demanded I should be in trial-no administrative arrest-- so that forced them to admit I am in an Israeli prison.
Next they decided to put me in total isolation. The first two years, they keep me in a small room, filled with light 24 hours and camera inside. I couldn't sleep for two years, they tried to break my nerves. They used a lot of psychology to brainwash. I demanded to meet a priest. They give me a priest, but without able to speak to him or him speak to me, only through notes. A ShinBet man sitting near the priest, reading the notes. I'm sending him notes, they're reading them. We couldn't meet as a human being. A woman came to Israel from U.S. I had a girlfriend. She came to see me. And again they did not let us meet, they said only by notes, you cannot speak to her, touch her nothing, so I refused to this condition.
During the 11 and half years I was in total isolation alone in a cell, only for two hours everyday to go to walk in a courtyard also alone. The cell was also isolated from all the prison. I was allowed to meet my family every two weeks for a half hour. I wasn't allowed to use the phone. My mail was delayed for three months and censored. Some of it disappeared, some destroyed. The Ashkelon prison was controlled by Shabak Mossad, because they have a section inside the prison. Could you believe Shabak Mossad are sitting inside the prison hiding themselves from the people. They used the guards to control the prison so the real people who control the prison is the Shavak Mossad
AMY GOODMAN: Where is the Ashkelon Prison?
MORDECHAI VANUNU: Ashkelon prison is... about 40 miles from Tel Aviv or 20 miles from Dalia .
AMY GOODMAN: How did you maintain your sanity? You were completely isolated for how many years in solitary confinement?
MORDECHAI VANUNU: 11 years in total isolation. I decided from the first weeks that it's going to be a big war between me and the Shabak-Mossad who are now my enemy, and they will do all they can to destroy me, and I shall do all I can to survive. So I use my simple brain, and my initiative. Like if they say I cannot speak to anyone, I decided I can speak, I spoke by reading in a loud voice from the New Testament in English... I used to do a lot of psychology exercises or physical exercise, I did Yoga. I hear the BBC World Service, I hear the Voice of America. I read books, and I used to follow anything that happened to me there, anything that come by food, by letter, anything I knew. The Shabak Mossad psychologic spy are fighting me and I should follow them. That was my way, and I also use the music after five years, I started hearing opera, opera, it was very good instrument to keep the spirit very strong because you feel like you are yourself singing opera, and I used to hear a lot of opera, they send me tapes. I used to hear the opera Fidelio. That was similar to my story. I used a lot of psychology for my initiative.
AMY GOODMAN: We're talking to Mordechai Vanunu. He is now out of jail after 18 years. Are you allowed to speak on the telephone?
MORDECHAI VANUNU: I'm allowed to use the phone, but I'm not allowed to speak to foreigners. Now when I am speaking is contrary to the restriction. But I think because I have given interview to the BBC and the day passed, nothing happened and I think - what I'm talking is about my humanity, my human rights and I think it's the government, or either a spy, who looks very stupid to fight someone who is speaking about his freedom of speech, freedom of movement, his human being, human rights. So I don't think they will be stupid [enough] to arrest me or to question. But if they can do anything - it is Israel. Israel, all of the world knows, they're [able] to do anything.
AMY GOODMAN: Mordechai Vanunu can you talk about the restrictions on you right now since you have left prison. First of all where are you?
MORDECHAI VANUNU: Since I left the prison April 21st, I took straight car from the prison to Saint George Cathedral in East Jerusalem, so I'm staying now in the Saint George Cathedral guest house. The Bishop accepted me and is expecting me to stay here, and since that day until now I'm sitting here, and the restriction is not to speak to foreigners for 6 months, that is a very stupid restriction. I can speak to any Israeli citizen about anything, but not to foreigners. And I rejected this restriction by speaking English to everyone. The other restriction is if I want to move from Jerusalem to another city, I should [notify] the police. Anywhere I want to move, I should [notify] the police. If I want to sleep in other home, I should [notify] the police. I am not allowed to go to any embassy, because they are afraid I will go ask for asylum. Another important, very danger- or important restriction is not to leave the country for one year, I'm not allowed to leave Israel for one year, they are not giving me a passport. So, those are the restrictions. We appealed to the Supreme Court. The leader of the Supreme Court followed the Shabak Mossad demand in fact they just give them another stamp. The Supreme Court again proved to be injustice, and not respecting the basics of democracy, the basics of human rights - to have the right of movement and the right of movement and the right of freedom of speech.
AMY GOODMAN: Would you like to leave Israel?

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