Jerusalem, 16 March 1998

Israel Government Response to Vanunu Application

(Communicated by Ministry of Justice Spokeswoman)


Firstly the respondents wish to state that the request can be legally rejected, since the decision, which is the subject of this application, was taken lawfully and because it is no longer relevant due to the decisions of the Prisons Commissioner to remove the applicant from solitary confinement, as will be clarified below.

The applicant was tried before the Jerusalem District Court and convicted of aiding the enemy in time of war, of giving secret information with the intent to harm the security of the state and of the gathering of secret information with the intent of harming the security of the state.

The applicant was sentenced to prison for 18 years, starting from the date of his arrest on the 7th October 1986. The appeal that was submitted to the Supreme Court was rejected in Criminal Appeal no. 172/88 (44(3) P.D. 265).

The applicant has been held, up until now in solitary confinement, in accordance with the decision and on the instructions of, the Prisons’ Commissioner, in accordance with the authority vested in him under Regulation 21 of the Prisons’ Regulations 1978, under which the need to continue holding the applicant in solitary confinement is examined by the Commissioner every two months.

The decision of the Commissioner regarding the need to hold the applicant in solitary confinement, was based on considerations of state security and was found to be justified by the District Court and the Supreme Court, after having been examined from time to time, in appeals submitted by the applicant, including this latest one.

On the 10th March 1998, the Prisons’ Commissioner Amos Azani, again considered the applicant’s case, and reached the following decision which was stated in his letter to the appropriate authorities, including the warden of Shikma Prison:


1. The prisoner Mordechai Vanunu (hereinafter "the prisoner") has been held in solitary confinement on the grounds of posing a danger to state security, in accordance with the decisions made from time to time by the Prisons’ Commissioner in accordance with the authority vested in him under Regulation 21 of the Prisons’ Regulations 1978.

2. A series of consultations was held recently in which according to the opinion of security officials, it would be possible from the perspective of state security, to hold the prisoner with other prisoners, within the necessary limitations.

At the same time, I received medical opinions, which followed an examination of the mental state of the prisoner and which was carried out with his cooperation, which specified the effects that continued solitary confinement would cause to the prisoner’s mental state.

3. Following these opinions, I again consulted with various security officials, with the mental health department of the Prisons’ Authority and with the State Attorney’s Office, in order to review all of the circumstances and considerations regarding this matter.

During the course of these consultations, the security considerations – which still apply – were weighed up on the one hand, and the considerations concerning the mental health of the prisoner, were weighed up on the other. Clarifications were also held with the relevant authorities in the Prisons’ Authority, including the warden of Shikma Prison, where the prisoner is being held.

4. In light of the above facts, I have decided as follows:

A. The prisoner will no longer be held in solitary confinement.

B. Since the prisoner is classified as a security prisoner, certain legal limitations will be placed on him regarding paroles, visits, telephone rights etc., and additional limitations, based on recommendations of security officials.

C. The prisoner will continue to be held at Shikma Prison. The place and conditions of his imprisonment as a security prisoner not in solitary confinement will be decided by the prison warden.

On the 12th March, 1998, the warden of Shikma Prison, Yitzhak Gabbai, met with the applicant and told him of the Commissioners’ decision and informed him of the conditions of his imprisonment from that day on. Below are the key points of that interview:

After the prisoner (that is the applicant), refused to be transferred to the working prisoners’ wing, the warden agreed that, "the applicant would continue to sleep in his cell, and the solitary confinement would be lifted. He would be permitted during the daytime to walk outside of (the building in which he is being held)." Within this framework, "he will be permitted to speak and meet with prisoners," and will be permitted, if he wishes, a cell mate or mates.

It was made clear to the prisoner that censorship would still be carried out on his outgoing letters and on his telephone conversations and that he would not be entitled to parole. The arrangements regarding visits will continue as in the past.

9. Therefore, the grounds for the application have ceased to apply, and the honourable court is asked that no leave to appeal be granted.

Issued: March 12th, 1998.

Nili Arad
Ministry of Justice Director-General.