114 Facts About Mordechai Vanunu


Mordechai Vanunu, known as John Crossman, is an Israeli former nuclear technician and peace activist who, citing his opposition to weapons of mass destruction, revealed details of Israel's nuclear weapons program to the British press in 1986.


Mordechai Vanunu was lured to Italy by the Israeli intelligence agency Mossad, where he was drugged and abducted.


Mordechai Vanunu was secretly transported to Israel and ultimately convicted in a trial that was held behind closed doors.


Mordechai Vanunu claims having suffered "cruel and barbaric treatment" at the hands of prison authorities, and suggests that these would have been different if he had not converted to Christianity.


In 2007, Mordechai Vanunu was sentenced to six months in prison for violating terms of his parole.


However, in May 2010, Mordechai Vanunu was arrested again and sentenced to three months in jail on a charge that he had met foreigners, in violation of conditions of his 2004 release from jail.


Mordechai Vanunu has been characterized internationally as a whistleblower and by Israel as a traitor.


Mordechai Vanunu was born in Marrakesh, Morocco, the second of 11 children born to an Orthodox Jewish family that lived in the city's mellah, or Jewish quarter.


Mordechai Vanunu's father, Shlomo, ran a grocery store, and his mother, Mazal, was a housewife.


Mordechai Vanunu studied in an Alliance francaise school, and a Jewish religious elementary school, or cheder.


In 1963, following a rise in anti-Semitic sentiment in Morocco, Mordechai Vanunu's father sold his business, and the family emigrated to Israel.


Mordechai Vanunu's father purchased a small grocery store in the town's market area, and the family moved into an apartment.


Mordechai Vanunu came to be regarded as a rabbi, earning respect in the market.


Mordechai Vanunu was sent to a Yeshiva Tichonit, a religious elementary school on the outskirts of town, which mixed religious and conventional studies.


For high school, Mordechai Vanunu attended Yeshivat Ohel Shlomo high school, a Bnei Akiva-run school, where he was an excellent student, earning honors.


Mordechai Vanunu's parents wanted him to attend a higher yeshiva; he agreed but left after a week.


Mordechai Vanunu then found a temporary job in the court archives.


Mordechai Vanunu tried to join the Israeli Air Force as a pilot, but after having been rejected by examiners, they sent him to the Combat Engineering Corps, where he became a sapper.


Mordechai Vanunu was stationed in a highlands area and saw action during the 1973 Yom Kippur War.


Mordechai Vanunu was offered a permanent job with the army as a career soldier, but declined the offer, and was honorably discharged in 1974.


Mordechai Vanunu then enrolled at Tel Aviv University and entered a pre-academic course, completing his matriculation, then began studying physics.


In 1976, Mordechai Vanunu applied for a job at the Negev Nuclear Research Center, an Israeli facility used to develop and manufacture nuclear weapons located in the Negev Desert south of Dimona.


Mordechai Vanunu had heard from a friend of his brother Meir that well-paying jobs were being advertised by the facility.


Mordechai Vanunu signed a contract forbidding disclosure of sensitive security materials and had to promise not to visit any Arab or Communist countries for five years after his employment at the facility ended.


Mordechai Vanunu passed health checks, after which his training began.


Mordechai Vanunu was put through an intensive training course in physics, chemistry, mathematics, first aid, fire drill, and English.


Mordechai Vanunu did sufficiently well to be accepted and was employed as a nuclear plant technician and shift manager in February 1977.


Mordechai Vanunu earned a high salary by Israeli standards, and lived well.


Mordechai Vanunu toured London, Amsterdam, Germany, and Scandinavia, and then visited Greece and toured the Greek islands with a Canadian friend.


Mordechai Vanunu opposed the 1982 Lebanon War, and when he was called up to serve in that war as a reserve soldier in the Engineering Corps, he refused to perform field tasks and instead did kitchen duty.


Mordechai Vanunu became acquainted with many Arab students, including pro-PLO activists.


Mordechai Vanunu was affiliated with a group called "Movement for the Advancement of Peace".


Mordechai Vanunu developed a particular resentment for what he viewed as the dominance of Israeli society by Ashkenazi Jews or Jews of European origin, and discrimination against Sephardi and Mizrahi Jews from the Middle East and North Africa.


Mordechai Vanunu felt that he was looked down on by those who ran the Dimona facility due to his Moroccan origin.


Mordechai Vanunu assumed an Ashkenazi dominance in Israel that encompassed all social strata and an Ashkenazi consensus closing off all possibilities of advancement for Oriental Jews.


Mordechai Vanunu later claimed that he had developed a very close friendship with an Israeli Arab, and after a year, discovered that his friend was being paid to spy on him.


Mordechai Vanunu graduated from Ben-Gurion University in 1985 with a BA in philosophy and geography.


Mordechai Vanunu quit his job on 27 October 1985, due to repeated efforts by his superiors to transfer him to tasks that were less sensitive than his previous positions at the facility.


Mordechai Vanunu was given severance pay of $7,500 and a reference letter praising his work and describing his departure as a layoff.


On 15 April 2015, The National Security Archive of George Washington University published documents corroborating Mordechai Vanunu's statements regarding the Dimona Negev Nuclear Research Center.


Mordechai Vanunu tried modeling nude for art students but was not booked again for being too nervous and jumpy.


Mordechai Vanunu transited through Moscow, spending a night at a transit hotel there.


Mordechai Vanunu then flew to Myanmar, where he met and befriended Fiona Gall, daughter of British journalist Sandy Gall.


Mordechai Vanunu then returned to Thailand, and from there went to Australia on a flight to Sydney.


Mordechai Vanunu decided to settle permanently in Sydney, and after ten days of sightseeing, he found a job as a dishwasher at the Menzies Hotel, and then at a Greek restaurant.


Mordechai Vanunu began attending a church, and in July 1986, converted to Christianity, joining the Anglican Church of Australia.


Mordechai Vanunu moved into an apartment owned by the church and found work driving a taxi owned by a parishioner.


Guerrero persuaded Mordechai Vanunu to sell his story, claiming that his story and photographs were worth up to $1 million.


Mordechai Vanunu met with an Israeli intelligence officer named Avi Kliman and told him Vanunu's story.


Prangnell verified Mordechai Vanunu's backstory, meeting a few people at Ben-Gurion University who identified Mordechai Vanunu from a photograph, as well as meeting neighbors and others who confirmed he had worked at the Dimona nuclear plant.


Mordechai Vanunu gave detailed descriptions of lithium-6 separation required for the production of tritium, an essential ingredient of fusion-boosted fission bombs.


Hounam speculated that Mordechai Vanunu's meeting with Bazak was no mere coincidence and that Bazak had been recruited by Mossad in an attempt to discover Mordechai Vanunu's motives and try to dissuade him.


Mordechai Vanunu later grew bored of rural Hertfordshire and asked for a new location in London, and he was booked in the first hotel he had stayed in under a false name.


The Israeli government decided to capture Mordechai Vanunu, but determined to avoid harming its good relationship with Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, and not wanting to risk confrontation with British intelligence, determined Mordechai Vanunu should be persuaded to leave British territory under his own volition.


Israel's efforts to capture Mordechai Vanunu were headed by Giora Tzahor.


Later that night, a white van hired by the Israeli embassy arrived, and Mordechai Vanunu was carried to the vehicle bound to a stretcher.


Mordechai Vanunu was detained in a Gedera prison, in a wing run by Shin Bet.


On 9 November 1986, after weeks of press reports speculating that Mordechai Vanunu had been abducted, the Israeli government confirmed it was holding Mordechai Vanunu prisoner.


Mordechai Vanunu rejected these conditions, demanding that he be allowed to meet her face to face.


Mordechai Vanunu filed three appeals to the Israeli Supreme Court protesting his conditions, which were rejected.


Mordechai Vanunu was charged with treason, aggravated espionage, and collection of secret information with intent to impair state security.


Mordechai Vanunu was initially represented by Amnon Zichroni, then by Avigdor Feldman, a prominent Israeli civil and human rights lawyer.


Mordechai Vanunu was denied contact with the media, but he inscribed the details of his abduction, on the palm of his hand, which he held against the van's window while being transported to court, for the waiting press to get that information.


On 1 September 1987, while being brought into court, Mordechai Vanunu tried to take off his helmet and started shouting in an apparent attempt to talk to the reporters nearby.


Mordechai Vanunu's guards stopped him using physical force, and police sirens were turned on to drown out his voice.


Mordechai Vanunu was allowed to report that he "gave evidence" regarding his "relationship" with Vanunu.


Mordechai Vanunu was sentenced to eighteen years of imprisonment from the date of his abduction in Rome.


Mordechai Vanunu served his sentence at Shikma Prison in Ashkelon, where he was held in administratively imposed solitary confinement.


On 12 March 1998, after having spent over eleven years in solitary confinement, Mordechai Vanunu was released into the general prison population.


In 1998, Mordechai Vanunu appealed to the Supreme Court for his Israeli citizenship to be revoked.


Mordechai Vanunu was denied parole because he refused to promise that he would never speak of the Dimona facility or his kidnapping and imprisonment.


Many critics argue that Mordechai Vanunu had no additional information that would pose a real security threat to Israel and that its government's only motivation is to avoid political embarrassment and financial complications for itself and allies such as the United States.


Mordechai Vanunu said Israel's Mossad spy agency and the Shin Bet security services tried to rob him of his sanity by keeping him in solitary confinement.


Mordechai Vanunu called for Israel's nuclear disarmament, and for its dismantlement as a Jewish state.


Mordechai Vanunu indicated a desire to completely dissociate himself from Israel, initially refusing to speak in Hebrew, and planning to move to Europe or the United States as soon as the Israeli government would permit him to do so.


Shortly before his scheduled release, Mordechai Vanunu remained defiant under interrogation by the security service, Shin Bet.


Mordechai Vanunu regularly receives visitors and sympathizers and has repeatedly defied the conditions of his release by giving interviews to foreign journalists.


On 22 April 2004, Mordechai Vanunu asked the government of Norway for a Norwegian passport and asylum in the country for "humanitarian reasons", according to Norwegian media.


Mordechai Vanunu sent applications to other countries, and stated that he would accept asylum in any country because he fears for his life.


Mordechai Vanunu unsuccessfully requested asylum in Ireland, which would require him to first be allowed to leave Israel.


Mordechai Vanunu has not applied for asylum in his native Morocco.


International calls for his freedom of movement and freedom of speech made by organizations supporting Mordechai Vanunu have been either ignored or rejected by Israel.


On 15 May 2008, the "Norwegian Lawyer's Petition for Mordechai Vanunu" was released, signed by 24 Norwegian attorneys.


In March 2015, Mordechai Vanunu established an Indiegogo campaign to raise the $10,000.00 that he was ordered to pay the Israeli newspaper Yedioth Ahronoth, when Israel's Court ruled against Mordechai Vanunu's libel suit against the publication for a November 1999 article.


Yedioth Ahronoth's headline read: "Mordechai Vanunu gave Hamas activists information on bomb assembly in prison" and a second-page insert entitled, "He's done it again", claimed Mordechai Vanunu sent messages containing bomb-making information to incarcerated members of Hamas.


On 7 May 2015, Mordechai Vanunu reported the restrictions denying his right to leave Israel were renewed for the 12th year since he was released from prison.


On 3 June 2015, Minister Vidar Helgesen said Norway had asked Israel to abolish the restrictions against Mordechai Vanunu leaving Israel for humanitarian considerations.


On 2 September 2015 Mordechai Vanunu granted his first interview to Israeli media in a Channel 2 interview regarding the Mossad operative who trapped him in 1986.


On 24 February 2016, Mordechai Vanunu tweeted his latest news regarding Israel's Supreme Court which has ordered the Prosecution to respond no later than 21 April 2016 regarding Mordechai Vanunu's eight Supreme Court appeal to end all restrictions and allow him to leave Israel.


On 30 January 2017, Mordechai Vanunu wrote on Facebook that the three Supreme Court judges were to rule "in a few weeks" regarding his latest appeal seeking to end all restrictions against him so that he can leave Israel.


On 2 June 2019, Mordechai Vanunu reported at his Facebook Wall, "that for the 16th year, after 18 years behind bars" Israel renewed the restrictions against Mordechai Vanunu "not to meet foreigners, not leave the country".


Mordechai Vanunu was arrested and detained for attempting to go to Bethlehem.


Yehiel Horev, the strictest of all the security chiefs in Israel, especially in regard to the protection of institutions such as the Shimon Peres Negev Nuclear Research Center and the Israel Institute for Biological Research, is apprehensive that if Mordechai Vanunu goes abroad, he will continue to be a nuisance by stimulating the public debate over Israel's nuclear policy and the nuclear weapons he says Israel possesses.


On 11 November 2004, Mordechai Vanunu was arrested by the International Investigations Unit of the Israel Police at around 9am while eating breakfast.


On 24 December 2004, in a vehicle marked as belonging to the foreign press, Mordechai Vanunu was arrested by Israeli Police while he was attempting to enter the West Bank in violation of his release restrictions, allegedly to attend mass at the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem.


On 7 January 2008, the day before his appeal against the above sentence was to begin, Mordechai Vanunu was re-sentenced to six months of community service.


On 1 January 2010, it was revealed that Mordechai Vanunu has known his Norwegian girlfriend, Kristin Joachimsen, a scholar and an associate professor of biblical studies, for two years.


On 11 May 2010, the Israeli Supreme Court ruled that Mordechai Vanunu would "serve a three-month jail sentence handed to him by Jerusalem District Court and not community service" which would begin 23 May 2010.


Mordechai Vanunu had been sentenced to community service but stated his refusal to perform community service in west Jerusalem, claiming that he would be in danger of being assaulted by a member of the Israeli public; however, he offered to do community service in east Jerusalem.


On 24 May 2010, Mordechai Vanunu began serving his three-month prison sentence.


Mordechai Vanunu's appeal noted an amendment to the Citizenship Act which allowed the Interior Minister to revoke his citizenship even if he did not hold another one, and claimed that revocation of his Israeli citizenship would allow him to seek citizenship or permanent residency in a European country.


Mordechai Vanunu deactivated his Facebook and Twitter accounts on 1 May 2012, following an announcement that the Israeli government was monitoring those accounts.


On 8 May 2016, Mordechai Vanunu was indicted for "a single meeting with two foreigners that occurred three years ago", for moving into a different apartment at the same address, and for an interview, he gave to Danny Kushmaro at Channel 2, which had passed the censor.


On 26 January 2017, Mordechai Vanunu tweeted that on 30 January 2017 he would return to Supreme Court petitioning for the end of all restrictions, so that he could leave Israel.


Mordechai Vanunu returned to Israel's Supreme Court on 6 November 2017 seeking to end the restrictions holding him in Israel so that he could be reunited with his wife in Norway.


Mordechai Vanunu has been nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize every year since 1987.


Mordechai Vanunu wrote the poem "I'm Your Spy" early during the first eleven and a half years he was held in strict isolation.


In March 2009 Mordechai Vanunu wrote to the Nobel Peace Prize Committee in Oslo:.


Mordechai Vanunu is the man who was behind all the Israeli atomic policy.


In September 2004, Mordechai Vanunu received the LennonOno Grant for Peace, a peace prize founded by artist and musician Yoko Ono in memory of John Lennon, her late husband.


On 24 February 2010, Nobel Institute Director, Geir Lundestad, announced that for the second year in a row, Mordechai Vanunu had declined the honour of being nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize.


On 4 October 2010, the International League for Human Rights announced that Mordechai Vanunu was awarded the Carl von Ossietzky Medal for 2010 and, on 16 November, sent open letters to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Defence Minister Ehud Barak and Interior Minister Eli Yishai, seeking Mordechai Vanunu's free departure out of Israel to allow him to receive the medal at the Award Ceremony in Berlin on 12 December 2010.


On this occasion, a musical composition, The Dove, was dedicated to Mordechai Vanunu and given its premiere performance.


On 19 May 2015, Mordechai Vanunu married Norwegian Professor Kristin Joachimsen at the Lutheran Church of the Redeemer in Jerusalem.