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Israel Partially Lifts Gag Order

June 21, 1999

JERUSALEM (AP) _ The Supreme Court decided today to partially lift a gag order on the case of Mordechai Vanunu, a former nuclear technician serving 18 years for disclosing Israel’s nuclear secrets.

The court will release the material Tuesday after the state prosecutor and security officials decide what can be published, said court spokesman Moshe Gorali.

Vanunu was tried in secrecy by the Jerusalem District Court in the late 1980s and was convicted of treason for giving detailed information about Israel’s nuclear program, including photographs, to The Sunday Times of London in 1986.

Based on the information, foreign experts estimated that Israel at the time had the world’s sixth largest stockpile of nuclear weapons.

Vanunu has said he was lured from London to Rome, and taken by Israeli agents back to Israel.

In a closed-door hearing today, the Supreme Court rejected his request to be freed and returned to Italy.

However, Prosecutor Dvora Chen said after the hearing that the state agreed that much of the censorship shrouding the case could be lifted.

Avigdor Feldman, Vanunu’s lawyer, said his client’s mental health has improved since he was released from solitary confinement last year.

Vanunu, 44, is being held at a prison in the coastal city of Ashkelon.

Earlier this year, 36 members of Congress _ all Democrats _ asked President Clinton to intervene on Vanunu’s behalf.

A St. Paul, Minn., couple, peace activists Nicholas and Mary Eoloff, have legally adopted Vanunu under a state law that allows adults to adopt adults.

Update hourly