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Last Updated: Monday, 30 April 2007, 09:41 GMT 10:41 UK
Vanunu convicted for media links
Mordechai Vanunu reacts as a right-wing activist verbally abuses him at Israel's Supreme Court
Many Israelis regard Mr Vanunu (left) as a traitor to their country
A court in Israel has convicted former nuclear technician Mordechai Vanunu of violating a military order banning him from speaking to foreign journalists.

The verdict could mean a fresh jail term for Mr Vanunu, who served 18 years in prison for revealing details of Israel's clandestine nuclear programme.

His lawyer called it intolerable to convict a person for the mere act of speaking, never mind whatever was said.

A sentencing hearing is set for 18 May. Vanunu is banned from leaving Israel.

"We should be clear here that Vanunu was convicted for the very act of speaking to non-Israelis, rather than the content of those conversations," lawyer Michel Sfard said.

"We do not consider this appropriate for a democracy in the 21st Century."

Mr Sfard said interior ministry officials had told him the travel ban on Mr Vanunu had been extended by another year to April 2008.

'Security threat'

"All that I want is to be free, to leave the country," Mr Vanunu, 52, told reporters at the magistrate's court in Jerusalem.

He was jailed in 1986 and released in April 2004 under strict conditions, including not talking to the foreign press.

However, he has given a series of interviews to the international media in the last three years.

Mr Vanunu's revelations belied Israel's policy of "strategic ambiguity" about its atomic weapons programme.

It is believed to have at least 200 nuclear warheads. It is not subject to international monitoring because it is not a signatory of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.

Israel insists Mr Vanunu - who has converted to Christianity - still poses a security threat.

Mr Vanunu says his action in revealing Israel's nuclear secrets aimed to avert a nuclear holocaust in the region.

Vanunu charged for media contacts
17 Mar 05 |  Middle East
Police keep Vanunu in Jerusalem
25 Dec 04 |  Middle East
Vanunu 'wanted to avert holocaust'
29 May 04 |  Middle East
Vanunu 'is still security risk'
09 Mar 04 |  Middle East
Vanunu: Israel's nuclear telltale
20 Apr 04 |  Middle East

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