It’s wonderful that WikiLeaks and Julian Assange are getting good publicity and support for their great efforts exposing the lies and deceptions of the US, Israel and others. But I also would like to draw some attention to the fate of two Israeli whistleblowers and political prisoners held in Israel, Mordechai Vanunu and Anat Kamm.
In 1986, Vanunu took a courageous moral stand against nuclear weapons. Vanunu exposed Israel’s secret nuclear weapons arsenal to the world after becoming disillusioned with his work at Dimona Nuclear Research Centre in Israel.
The information revealed Israel had hundreds of advanced nuclear warheads — the sixth largest stockpile in the world.
His brave actions led to him being kidnapped by Israeli Mossad agents in Italy and transported back to Israel where he was charged with espionage and treason and convicted in a secret trial.
Vanunu’s abduction was a violation of Italian and international law.
For his “crime” he spent 18 years in jail, including over 11 years in solitary confinement in a six-metre square cell under constant camera surveillance — conditions Amnesty International described as, “cruel, inhuman and degrading”.
Vanunu was released from prison in 2004, but Israeli authorities imposed a strict military supervision order on him. Under this order Vanunu is banned from meeting journalists, supporters and foreigners, can’t use phones or the internet, go near foreign embassies, ports or airports or move address without telling the police.
Vanunu is also subject to continuous police surveillance, his internal movements are confined to Jerusalem and he is forbidden to leave Israel.
These restrictions deny Vanunu’s rights to freedom of expression, movement and association. Amnesty International has pointed out that Vanunu has served his full sentence and therefore these limitations are in breach of international law.
Vanunu has also been rearrested and jailed several times since 2004 for breaching these regulations. For instance, in mid 2010 Vanunu spent another three months in solitary confinement in a prison in central Israel.
Vanunu has been imprisoned and persecuted by Israel simply for following his conscience.
Since his release from prison, his civil, political and human rights have been grossly abused. He has served his prison time and under international law he is entitled to his liberty.
But Vanunu is still suffering political persecution and is under constant risk of further detention in prison.
Former Israeli soldier Anat Kamm, 24, has also been under house arrest for a year, since she was charged with espionage and intent to harm state security in January 2010. In Israel, these charges carry a punishment of life in prison.
While carrying out her national service, Kamm served as a clerk for an Israeli general. Kamm made copies of about 2000 documents, including hundreds of top secret ones, which she then leaked to an Israeli reporter in November 2008.
Some of the documents revealed war crimes, such as Israeli officials authorising the killing of Palestinian militants in Israeli army operations when they could have been simply arrested.
These killings breached an Israeli High Court judgment that ruled militants must be arrested whenever possible.
Kamm stated that she took the top secret papers to ensure that, “if and when the war crimes the IDF was and is committing in the West Bank [are investigated] then I would have evidence to present … I thought by exposing these materials I would make a change … it was important to me to bring the IDF’s policy to the public knowledge.”
Kamm was convicted in March of the lesser charges of possession and distribution of secret information after a plea bargain in which she admitted that she passed on thousands of classified Israeli military documents to a journalist.
This means that although she won’t receive a life sentence, Kamm still faces a long prison term, with a punishment of up to 15 years in jail.
Prosecutors are pushing for a sentence of nine years, but her lawyers are asking for community service or probation.
Those concerned about human rights should do whatever they can to support these courageous people.
Demand that Israel stop punishing Vanunu, respect his human rights, lift the unjust regulations and give Vanunu genuine freedom, including the liberty to travel and to leave Israel.
Demand that Israel free Anat Kamm unconditionally.