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Friday, 13 March, 1998, 09:07 GMT
Israel ends 12-year solitary
Vanunu
Vanunu was sentenced to 18 years for revealing nuclear secrets
The technician who revealed Israeli nuclear secrets has been moved out of solitary confinement for the first time in 12 years.

Mordechai Vanunu is being allowed to leave his cell and talk to other prisoners in the jail.

Israeli agents abducted Mr Vanunu from Europe and he was sentenced in 1986 to 18 years in prison for revealing details of the Israeli nuclear weapons programme to the British newspaper, The Sunday Times.

A former technician at Israel's nuclear reactor in Dimona, Mr Vanunu gave the newspaper photographs from inside the plant.

Based on the information, nuclear experts said that Israel had the world's sixth-largest arsenal of nuclear weapons.

Israeli security services argued that Mr Vanunu should be kept isolated so that he could not pass on information about Israel's nuclear programme.

His lawyer, Avigdor Feldman, said the government appeared to have changed its position on Mr Vanunu's solitary confinement, in part because of international pressure.

Several human rights groups and foreign leaders, including the Norwegian Prime Minister, had taken up Mr Vanunu's case.

However, his lawyer says the years of isolation have taken their toll.

"Isolation can have an impact on mental stability, and there is a possibility that such an impact occurred," Mr Feldman said.

Mr Feldman said there was a possibility that Mr Vanunu would be released next month when he has completed two-thirds of his sentence.

A senior Israeli MP, Yossi Katz, said he would put pressure on the Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu to release Mr Vanunu immediately.

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