(Communicated by the Justice Ministry Spokesman)

Interior Minister Avraham Poraz has banned Mordechai Vanunu from leaving the country, effective today (Monday), 19 April 2004; OC Home Front Command Maj.-Gen. Yair Naveh has similarly placed several restrictions on Vanunu, which also take effect today. Minister Poraz and Maj.-Gen. Naveh made their decisions after considering Vanunu’s claims in the framework of a written hearing that was held for him.

Mordechai Vanunu was exposed to state secrets during his work at the Center for Nuclear Research in the Negev. Vanunu possesses state secrets, several of which he has yet to reveal and which have yet to be published. From letters that he wrote during his incarceration, from material that he prepared during his incarceration and from remarks made by him during court proceedings, it is clear that there is a tangible danger with a high degree of probability that Vanunu wishes to divulge state secrets, secrets that have yet to be divulged and which have have not been previously published. Divulging the secrets is liable to cause serious damage to state security.

Under these circumstances, ahead of his release, the authorities considered which legal measures they might take, and were entitled to take, in order to prevent an impending danger to state security that is liable to be caused by the publication of secrets that were not previously known. Administrative detention, house arrest, etc. were among the measures considered. In the end, it was decided – in accordance with directives from Attorney General Meni Mazuz – not to take such far-reaching steps in light of their harsh impact on individual rights and taking into account that Vanunu has completed an 18-year prison sentence. However, it was decided that there was no alternative to barring Vanunu from leaving the country and from taking other measures to prevent him from either fleeing the country or divulging information that would endanger state security. Therefore, Vanunu has been required – inter alia – to report in advance of the location of his residence and movements; he has been barred from approaching ports from which he could leave the country. He has been barred from holding contacts with foreign residents and citizens without advance permission; it was suggested to him that he immediately transfers a list of foreign contacts with whom he is in contact in order that they might be approved in one go following checks.

Interior Minister Poraz and OC Home Front Command Maj.-Gen. Naveh, who issued these restrictions, deem them to be of utmost importance despite the partial impairment to Vanunun’s liberties and freedom of movement; this impairment is in proportion to the security risks he poses. It should be pointed out that the High Court of Justice has repeatedly held that the right to leave the country is not absolute and may be limited for such reasons of security as may warrant it. Thus, the High Court of Justice recently ruled:

“The right to leave the country is relative, not absolute. It may be limited for serious reasons. While it is precious and important, it may be limited in light of the obligation, also precious and important, to protect the security of the state and the public peace. Thus it is similar to the right of freedom of expression, which may be limited in the face of the public interest in security, order and the public peace, if there is near certainty that the public interest will suffer tangible damage if the freedom of expression is not limited…”

Acting in accordance with principles set down in High Court of Justice rulings, the authorities have limited Vanunu’s freedom of movement.

It should be pointed out that the aforementioned restrictions are of limited duration, those of Maj.-Gen. Naveh for six months and those of Interior Minister Poraz for one year. The reissuance of these restrictions will be considered prior to their expiry. As Attorney General Meni Mazuz stressed to the Knesset Constitution, Law and Justice Committee, “The keys are in Vanunu’s hands.” The reissuance of the restrictions depends on the steps that he takes, on his conduct and on future violations of the law.