14. Bjørnsonfestivalen 1.9.06
Bankettsalen, Hotell Alexandra
Kl. 13.00: Straffen for ytringer tvunget til taushet
Den israelske forfatteren og forskeren Mordechai Vanunu ble i 2004 løslatt etter å ha sonet en dom på 18 års fengsel for å ha avslørt Israels atomprogram. Til tross for at han har gjort opp med det israelske samfunn, har han likevel restriksjoner på bevegelses- og ytringsfrihet etter løslatelsen; Vanunu kan ikke reise fra Jerusalem eller snakke med utenlandsk presse. Han kan derfor ikke komme i egen person, men taler sin sak gjennom et intervju med journalist Ana Maria Tveit.
Deltakere: Fredrik Heffermehl (leder for den internasjonale Vanunu-komiteen), Ingeborg Moa (Fellesutvalget for Palestina), Faraj Bayrakdar (fribyforfatter i Stockholm, Syria)
Ordstyrer: Eugene Schoulgin, forfatter
Vi har nettopp vært vitner til en forbrytelse. Ved denne samtalen brøt Vanunu enda en gang det forbudet som er nedlagt mot å snakke med utlendinger. Bjørnsonfestivalen har bistått med en forbrytelse. Hele saken handler om undertrykking av politisk diskusjon. Israel vil ikke ha oppmerksomhet om atomvåpen, men det ville ikke Vanunu godta.
Vanunu er jøde og israeler, har sin utdannelse i Israel og har gjort militærtjeneste der. Han hadde en jobb som underordnet tekniker på Dimona, han var ingen vitenskapsmann, IKKE en forsker med dette er en vanlig feilslutning fra den forferdelige behandlingen av ham til at han jo må ha hatt avansert, mørk og farlig kunnskap om tekniske forhold. Han hadde ikke det, men han hadde hode nok til å skjønne at det anlegget han jobbet ved var en topp hemmelig og ulovlig fabrikk for å lage atomvåpen. Det var så hemmelig at arbeiderne ikke kunne snakke med hverandre en gang om hva de drev med. Men Vanunu la to og to sammen. Han drev studier i filosofi, moral og politikk ved universitetet, og fikk anfektelser.
Kanskje forsto han at dette var en lovstridig virksomhet, men først og fremst skjønte han at det var i strid med all moral og veldig farlig for Israels egen sikkerhet og i hvert fall for nabolandene arabiske land som står i fare for å bli knust. Det gir en interessant påminnelse om kompleksiteten i Midtøsten-problemene at Vanunu kom til Israel 9 år gammel, etter en lykkelig barndom i Marokko, hvor hans hovedspråk var arabisk. Han kunne se atomvåpen som fare for Israels sikkerhet, men også identifisere seg med den skjebne Israel hadde forberedt for sine naboer.
Israel har beskyldt ham for spionasje og forræderi, men har et problem: spioner går til fienden, men Vanunu reiste ut av landet og ga sitt bevismateriale til London-avisen Sunday Times, i 1986. Det er vanskelig for et demokrati å kalle pressen for en fiende.
Jeg har nevnt at han ikke var forsker. En annen vanlig misforståelse er at han røpet en hemmelighet. Alle som var inne i militære forhold og utenrikspolitikk visste i 1986 at Israel hadde atomvåpen. Det Vanunu gjorde var bare å fremlegge klare bevis for noe alle regnet med samt litt om hvor omfattende programmet var.
Etter at Vanunu hadde gitt sin informasjon til Sunday Times ble han bortført til Israel, forført bort til Israel kan man si, av en vakker kvinne. Han ble dømt til 18 år i hemmelig rettssak og satt i 11 ½ år totalt isolert i en celle på 6 m2. Det er utrolig at han overlevet mentalt, han opphevet den medisinske tyngdekraften.
Festivalen gjør selvsagt rett i å ikke hjelpe Israel med å kneble Vanunu. Han var innestengt som politisk fange i 18 år. I neste måned skal han igjen for retten i en straffesak for å ha snakket med 21 utlendinger med navn som BBC, CNN, australsk og kanadisk TV osv osv. Han har allerede vært for retten flere ganger og har mistet all tillit til israelske dommere.
Det å holde informasjon skjult hindre at folk får innsyn - er enormt viktig for å ha og holde på makt. Det å gjøre ulovlige og farlige ting over hodet på folk er en måte å holde folk flest i avmakt på og helt uforenlig med demokratiets ide.
Dette er virkelig et tema om makt og avmakt. Vanunu utfordret alle med makt ved å snakke. En viktig grunn til å straffe ham så hard har vært å skremme andre fra å følge hans eksempel. Men det har ikke lykkes, snarere tvert i mot, varsling er i blomstring og vekst, stadig mer akseptert som samfunnsgavnlig.
Varslere får likevel ofte gjennomgå fra både sjefer og kolleger. En norsk varsler, Kari Breirem, som jobbet i advokatfirmaet BAHR, har minnet om at varslere ofte skjelles ut, med
“… belastende betegnelser som sladrehank, tyster og angiver. Men disse tre kategorier gjelder personer som går til makten.
Varsleren gjør det motsatte: Han eller hun utfordrer makten.
Jeg har fulgt Vanunus sak gjennom 19 år, først som brevvenn av en fange. Senere ble jeg koordinator for det internasjonale støttearbeidet. Dette har medført 6 reiser til Israel siden 1996. Den siste for et år siden for å gjennomgå manuskriptet til min bok om ”Vanunu” med ham selv. Jeg dikterte på engelsk og han lyttet og kommenterte. Denne boken på norsk er dermed den eneste som er lest og godkjent av Vanunu.
Vanunu-saken handler om demokrati og hemmelighold, skal en regjering kunne bygge våpen som utsetter landet for utslettelse? Det handler om undertrykkelse av meninger, om makt og avmakt, altså midt i temaet for årets festival. Vanunu vet sitt om de kostnadene forfattere og intellektuelle utsetter seg for ved å tale sannhet, som festivalsjef Hege Newth Nouri omtaler i sin velkomsthilsen. Men jeg er ikke helt med på flg. formulering, sitat:
Ordet har makt til å avdekke sannhet og igangsette handling som igjen forandrer virkelighet. Forutsetningen er at ordet er fritt og kan bli hørt. Uten dette er ordet maktesløst og mennesker forvises til avmakten.
Dette er en teoretisk, idealtypisk beskrivelse av ytringsfrihet og demokrati, på linje med den jeg hadde lært om rettssystem og demokrati da jeg var ferdig utdannet som jurist. Jeg trodde på det åpne og diskuterende demokrati helt til jeg prøvde å bruke demokratiet, til å si ting som ikke passet samfunnsmakten.
Spesielt har jeg opplevd utenrikspolitikken, FN-systemet og internasjonalt diplomati som en verden med et kunstig og villedende språk, hvor det ikke hjelper stort at ord ytres og blir hørt og lest. Språket blir et redskap for falskhet og forføring. I diplomatspråket har vi et ytterst problematisk forhold mellom ord og virkelighet. I stedet for spor i ord har vi hor i ord.
Fra politikere, fulgt opp av pressen: Hvordan er det mulig at Irak fikk en krig ut med grunnløse påstander om at de hadde atomvåpen som påskudd, og Iran står for tur mens Israels atomvåpen (og Vanunu) er politisk ikke-tema, de skal ikke røres.
En illustrasjon av diplomatspråket ga en stolt utenriksminister Jan Petersen etter noen år i jobben:
Jeg er etter hvert blitt ganske flink til å snakke uten å si noe.
En hel verden har protestert mot den uhyrlige behandlingen av Vanunu, men det har hjulpet lite. Jeg er kommet til at de språklige og politiske metodene som holder Vanunu i ufrihet, er i nær i slekt med at menneskene ikke blir fri fra atomvåpen. Dette, språket som redskap for politisk makt, ble derfor et viktig sidetema i boken om Vanunu - Leser (s. 14)
”Hvilken synd har Vanunu begått, ut over å forstyrre diplomatiets virtuelle språk med en porsjon virkelighet? Hvis man tror dette spørsmålet er å redusere Vanunu til filologi, har man ikke innsett hvor mye av politisk makt og forførelse som ligger i språket, mytene, løgnene.”
En anmelder sa at det er blitt 5 bøker i en, to biografier, altså Vanunus og min, en kriminalroman, en lærebok i fredsarbeid og en samtidshistorie. Jeg vil si den handler mye om temaet for årets Bjørnsonfestival, Makt og avmakt.
Albert Schweizer har sagt noe viktig om maktens subtile former:
Ingen av oss vet hvilken virkning vi har på andre mennesker eller hva vi gir dem. Det er skjult for oss og skal så forbli. Ofte får vi sjansen til å se en liten flik av dette, slik at vi ikke skal miste motet. Makt virker på ukjente måter.
Innen fredsbevegelsen har det lenge versert en nytenkning om makt, i stedet for tradisjonell makt ovenfra trenger vi makt utøvd som felles samspill. Ikke Power over, men power with Det kan jo likne litt på demokrati og de beste impulsene i moderne utenrikspolitikk, en ny politikk med mindre rolle for militære metoder og maktmidler går under navnet: Soft power.
Men hva er makt og hva er avmakt: overflaten kan bedra:
Et betagende bilde fins i Nelson Mandelas selvbiografi. Da han hadde sittet 24-25 år i fengsel gikk fangen med på å møte landets president, Botha. Vakkert dresset opp ble han, i all hemmelighet, ført til presidentboligen midt på natten. Men i fengselet hadde han mistet treningen med skolisser og i venterommet foran presidentens kontor la politisjefen seg ned på kne, sjefen for Sør-Afrikas beryktede hemmelige politi knyttet fangens skolisse. Et fantastisk bilde på at formell makt og reell makt ikke er samme sak, på begrensningene i hva man kan oppnå ved fysisk makt.
Ved Vanunus løslatelse fra fengselet 20. april 2004 kunne man se noe av det samme. Den ene dagen var Vanunu Israels fange, krenket, torturert, avmektig. Den neste var tok han en fyrstelig avskjed med en hel verden som tilskuere. Jeg har aldri sett et slikt oppbud av verdens presse, TV-team med satelitt-busser, fotografer og journalister i hundrevis, videre en hær av fengsels- og politifolk, helikoptere klaprende i luften, en tettpakket folkemasse. Mordechai selv med en kort og velformulert uttalelse til pressen. Og så kjørte han av sted,
Vanunu er som personlighet omgitt av gåter. Hvorfor han? Hvilke egenskaper gjorde ham til varsler? Hvordan kunne han overlevde grov tortur, i form av over et tiår i isolasjon? Med den korte tiden jeg har her må jeg i det meste henvise til boken ”Vanunu”.
Blant det som virker gåtefullt, uforståelig og irrasjonelt er også Israels nådeløse hevn over ham. I virkeligheten var han jo nyttig. Et avskrekkingsvåpen er ikke til noen nytte om det ikke er kjent. Shimon Peres, den israelske atombombens far, sa i krisemøte da man ennå hadde kunnet hindre ham: ”La ham snakke” slik fikk Israel full pott. De fikk avskrekket nabolandene, samtidig som de kunne fortsette sin politikk med å ikke bekrefte at Israel har atomvåpen. Det kanskje viktigste her er at USA gir mer hjelp til Israel enn til noe annet land men pga. en lov som forbyr bistand til land som skaffer seg atomvåpen må de late som dette er uklart.
Overskriften: Straff for ytringer tvunget til taushet lyder tittelen.
Ytringsfriheten betyr at man kan uttrykke sine tanker uten straff. Den er en viktig del av den enkeltes livsutfoldelse.
Demokratiets behov for innsyn og debatt er erkjent f.eks. i offentlighetsloven, som betyr at myndighetenes sakspapirer i prinsippet er åpne at enhver kan se dem skal sikre god forvaltning og resultater som passer med folks behov.
Men det er unntak fra straffriheten: f.eks. børs-, bedrifts- og statshemmeligheter, eller ærekrenkende injurier. Ansatte er ofte pålagt taushetsplikt, men i de siste årene er varsling stadig mer akseptert. Samfunnet har fått for mange sperrede rom bedriftene og det offentlige har innført rutiner som skal hindre ubehagelig og kritisk innsyn. Men demokratiet blir en illusjon om man ikke får utveksle tanker og ytrer kritikk og nye ideer både i privat og offentlig sektor. Og i skyggene gror det fort opp lyssky forhold.
Et samfunn, en bedrift og en organisasjon trår fort feil om man ikke har varslere som bringer følsom viten ut i åpent terreng. For å stanse mislige, korrupte og kriminelle forhold har vi i mange land fått lovgivning som skal beskytte varslere, med USA som foregangsland.
Varsling blir mer og mer akseptert, men mange steiler overfor åpenhet om militære temaer, det feltet hvor Vanunu åpnet for innsyn. Mitt syn, og et hovedpunkt i det jeg har å si, her og i boken: man trenger varslere også i militære saker.
For det første, mye militært hemmelighold skjer ikke av hensyn til landets potensielle fiender, men vel så mye for å verne mot kritikk og spørsmål ved pengebruk, uakseptable våpentyper og strategier, tvilsom våpenhandel osv.
Kan vi leve med at de viktigste og mest skjebnesvangre tema i politikken skal være unntatt fra demokratisk debatt? Atomvåpen er et militært tiltak som etter Vanunus syn overskred moralske grenser og var til langt større fare enn vern for Israel. Dette kan man ha flere meninger om og, ja nettopp, det var den diskusjonen Vanunu ønsket.
I Israel var det en liten klikk på 3-4 i regjeringen som traff beslutningen om å bygge atomvåpen. Da resten av regjeringen fikk høre om tiltaket ble det stor uenighet. Med en ryddig, demokratisk beslutningsprosedyre, ville Israel trolig ikke ha bygd atomvåpen.
Virkningen av demokratisk diskusjon om atomvåpen illustreres av Sveriges erfaring. Her slapp de militæres strengt hemmeligholdte interesse for atomvåpen ut. Folk syntes først det hørtes fint ut å bli militært sterke men etter et par års debatt var opinionen svingt og det var blitt politisk umulig.
Uheldigvis hadde vi ingen varslere som i tide sa fra om Israels atomplaner eller Norges planer om å hjelpe Israel i gang med atombomben. Den norske regjeringen solgte det nødvendige tungtvann i 1959 snarere enn å advare verden. Det var vår regjerings forsømmelser som gjorde Vanunus handling nødvendig.
Vanunu forlot Israel med to ufremkalte filmruller i bagasjen og uten en anelse om hvordan han skulle gripe saken an. Igjen må jeg vise til boken. Poenget her er at han manglet modeller.
Mange har senere brukt ham som modell. Varsling er blitt en viktig faktor i utenriks- og militærpolitikken. Foran USAs angrep på Irak i 2003 var det mye varslingsaktivitet, diplomater, etterretningsfolk, militære, i USA, i UK var det en etterretningsansatt og en statsråd, i Danmark en etterretningsoffiser som forklarte at statsminister Fogh Rasmussen løy om hvilke informasjoner han hadde fra etterretningen. Mens man før ofte måtte vente en generasjon eller to på de politiske sannhetene kom de nå i stor bredde FØR krigen.
Vanunu får over hele verden, men er utropt til statsfiende nr. 1 i Israel. Støtten kommer fra kultur og politikk, kirke og fagforeninger, kjente skikkelser og grasrot, i millionvis har de bedt om rettferd og anstendighet for Vanunu.
Norske regjeringer har kommet med høflige innvendinger, gjerne mot soningsforholdene snarere enn en protest mot at man i det hele tatt holder ham fengslet. De siste på banen med kraftige protester var Kristin Halvorsen og Åslaug Haga på vårparten i fjor. Men, enda dette ville være en sak som kunne gi stor godvilje både hjemme og ute, har Stoltenberg først i valgkampen og så i regjering lagt saken død.
I regjeringen er det Gahr Støre som nå håndterer saken og han uttrykker vi ser diplomatspråket i full utfoldelse at ”Regjeringen vil fortsatt følge Vanunus situasjon og understreke overfor israelske myndigheter at grunnleggende menneskerettigheter må overholdes, slik at han ikke lider overlast eller utsettes for krenkende behandling.
Dette sies til tross for groteske overgrep gjennom snart 20 år om en måned er det 20 år siden han ble bortført ulovlig fra England, dømt i en dermed ulovlig og hemmelig rettssak, satt under isolasjonens tortur i 11 år, - og nå nektet elementære menneskerettigheter.
Vanunu er ikke her enda internasjonale traktater, om menneskerettighetene og om sivile og politiske rettigheter gir ham rett til å være her, rett til å ytre seg, være politisk aktiv, reise, ha kontakt med andre. Det er en ulovlig tilleggsstraff å frata ham disse rettighetene idet han løslates fra fengsel. Folkeretten er helt klar: Enhver har rett å drive politisk arbeid og en rett å forlate og vende tilbake til sitt land. En stat som påberoper seg å være et demokrati og en rettsstata kan ikke opptre slik.
DIVERSE MOMENTER FOR DEBATTEN:
Hvordan har Israel kunnet ignorere en hel verdens forargelse, en slik skamplett på landets ambisjoner om å være en demokratisk rettsstat? I boken anser jeg Vanunu som bilde på opinion og makt i den internasjonale politikken, hvordan makten fungerer. Vanunu får ikke sin frihet og verden blir ikke fri for atomvåpen, enda 80-90% av befolkningen i de viktige demokratiske stater ønsker dette.
Han ble dømt for å bruke sin ytringsrett og gjøre kjent staten Israels ulovlige program for et folkerettstridig våpen. Ansatte har ikke taushetsplikt om lovovertredelser.
Han blir fortsatt torturert, ved å ikke få sin frihet i strid med elementær strafferett og traktatforpliktelse, sivile og politiske rettigheter han får aldri startet på livet sitt. I stedet lever han under forhold som truer hans helse og i et land med mange fanatiske og utilregnelig personer betyr konstant livsfare.
Det er intet så mektig som en ide når dens tid er kommet Hugo:
Napoleon: det er to krefter i verden, sverdets og pennens makt. og i det lange løp er jeg ikke i tvil om at pennens er den sterkeste.
Mange jobbet på Dimona Mange skjønner at dette er noe som bør bli kjent, og diskutert men foretrekker taushet og ikke bli innblandet. Hvorfor gikk M ut med opplysningene. Et trekk jeg har festet meg ved er en stor rettsskaffenhet, og at han mer enn noen jeg har møtt ser et større bilde og alltid tenker i prinsipper.
Ikke forsker, men tekniker
Ikke en (militær) hemmelighet
Ikke skade, ville hjelpe og støtte sitt land:
Han er opptatt av fred og forsoning, ikkevold, i Midtøsten
les: s. 35
Han prøvde å hindre atomkatastrofe fortalte om dårlig arbeidsdisiplin: elendig moral. En atomkatastrofe kan fort utsette Israel for å bli ubeboelig ..... 42 personer på hvert skift, nattevaktene de sov, spilte kort og røykte. Denne informasjonen fikk Sunday Times, men de bragte den aldri videre.
“A Quiet Week With Vanunu." was originally published as
“Stille uke med Vanunu.” in Dagbladet, Oslo, on April 9, 2005,
The author, Mai-Bente. Bonnevie, is an artist (painter) and the article was accompanied with her portrait (pencil drawing) of Mordechai Vanunu.
Translated from Norwegian by Jeanie Shaterian, California, USA.
12. A Quiet Week With Vanunu
“What the world needs of this prophet of the nuclear era is not his silence but his freedom to speak and travel, to inspire others to follow his example of truth-telling in their own countries . . .”
Mai-Bente Bonnevie, artist
Thursday, April 9, 2005
“I OFTEN DREAMED in my prison cell about sitting on the deck of a boat sailing up a fjord through the Norwegian mountains, feeling the wind on my skin and looking at the green water . . . Sailing up the Norwegian fjords gives you a feeling of flying,” he says. We’re sitting in the garden of St. George’s Cathedral in Jerusalem, Mordechai Vanunu’s beautiful sculpted head directly opposite me. The sun’s glare cannot remove the shadow darkening his gaze. He likes to reminisce about his trip to Norway shortly before he was kidnapped in London, taken to Rome, knocked out, and drugged, and then suddenly found himself in Jerusalem, locked in a tiny cel under the strictest surveillance. His eventual sentence was for eighteen years.
His story is well-known. He worked as a technician at Dimona, Israel’s nuclear reactor, which he had been told was designed for peaceful purposes. A shock to discover that he was participating in the production of nuclear weapons. It was impossible to bring this to the public in his own country. In 1986, in London, he revealed to the press Israel’s development of nuclear weapons, in violation of the 1968 international agreement that aimed to eliminate all nuclear weapons (the Non-Proliferation Treaty). A paradox today when the USA’s professed motive for going to war against Iraq was to find and destroy weapons of mass destruction, while at the same time it has all along, tacitly, supported Israel’s nuclear option.
“TWENTY TONS OF HEAVY WATER from Norway made it possible to produce nuclear weapons in Israel. This is a fact,” says Vanunu. “Eighteen years ago I believed that people both in Israel and in the rest of the world had the right to know about the nuclear weapons program and where it was being carried on. This is still my conviction and it is crucial for a real peace process both in the Middle East and elsewhere in the world. If there’s a need for openness and democratic debate anywhere, this is definitely the place! Life-threatening nuclear weapons are of highest concern to the entire international community,” he continues.
ON APRIL 21 a year will have passed since Mordechai Vanunu emerged from Ashkelon Prison after completing his eighteeen years’ sentence, almost twelve years in solitary confinement in a 2x3 meter cell. How did he manage to maintain his health, both mental and physical? Vanunu says that from the very beginning he had confidence in his own strength of mind and held fast to an unfaltering belief that he had done the right thing. He cultivated this conviction every day by reading, singing, practicing yoga, and listening to classical music. The constant flow of letters and greetings, with their messages of support, respect, and love, was enormously important.
What does Vanunu want to do when he gets permission to travel abroad? He wants to go to London first, to celebrate with all his friends, supporters, and peace activists from around the world. Then the work begins! He is invited to Tromsø University and hopes to be invited to Harvard, MIT, and Glasgow University.
He received an honorary doctorate from Tromsø in 2001, while still in prison, and would like to show them who got the degree! He would like very much to live and work in Norway for some years. Give lectures in peace studies, philosophy, and ethics, not to mention disarmament strategies. A new consciousness of conflict resolution and human rights must come to permeate all levels of education.
SEEING AND HEARING Mordechai Vanunu in person, you sense at once that he is a character out of the usual mold. His words, yielded with great gravity, are carefully chosen, milled and formed over the course of endless days of reflection. But as with so many other deeply serious people, his irony and sense of humor are always close at hand. They couldn’t break his capacity for enthusiasm. His face suddenly lights up at the memory of how wonderful it was to finally get to dance after all the hard, lonesome years. When asked what people around the world could do, he answers that he hopes people can pressure their governments to speak out forcefully about Israel’s harsh violations of his human rights and demand that he be allowed to leave the country. It would be a boost to the campaign against nuclear weapons, and in line with Alfred Nobel’s goal of a demilitarized world. The life-threatening danger of nuclear weapons proliferation is extremely real. You just need to look at Iran and North Korea. The 1968 non-proliferation and disarmament treaty is in danger of disintegrating during the UN’s next reveiew of the treaty this May.
VANUNU SERVED his entire eighteen years’ sentence, the first two of the twelve years of solitary with flourescent lights in the ceiling on twenty-four hours a day. He followed his conscience, went to a newspaper, and told what he had to tell. His reward was persistent psychological torture. He had a completely subordinate position at the reactor, and he has no secrets today. If he’d had the capacity and wish to harm Israel, he’s had plenty of opportunities in the year he’s been “free.” When the Israeli government denies Vanunu permission to leave the country on “grounds of national security,” it is using a hollow pretext.
Daniel Ellsberg, the man who, by publicizing the “Pentagon Papers,” helped to strengthen the opposition to the Vietnam War and bring about Nixon’s downfall, is himself Jewish and expresses his support for Vanunu in these words, “What the world needs of this prophet of the nuclear era is not his silence but his freedom to speak and travel, to inspire others to follow his example of truth-telling in their own countries…” Only then can we speak of democracy and freedom, a “Project Freedom,” in this world.
10. Proposed Legal Strategy
Lawyers for Full Freedom for Vanunu
Jennifer Harbury, Boston, USA (email@example.com)
Fredrik S. Heffermehl, Oslo, Norway (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Boston/Oslo, 5 November 2004
Proposed Legal Strategy:
1. The group´s discussions on Mordechai´s legal approach took place in Jerusalem in July and October. For details on the restrictions that are in force, the SC judgment of July 27, 2004, and a critical analysis by Heffermehl, see http://www.peaceispossible.info/update.html. In October Harbury spoke with Israeli attorneys to gather technical information for the legal approach. We also brainstormed and circulated ideas on all the other work that could be done.
2. NB much overlap between the legal strategy and political actions (see survey in separate sheet dated Nov. 10, 04)
All states like to be seen as law-based democracies. Citizens are entitled to equal treatment under law. This makes the law a strong argument in publicity and political work and law, of course, should guide the relevant administrative bodies and judges when they decide a case. Law is a separate avenue that overlaps and interacts with media and general political work.
3. The situation in Vanunu´s case for full freedom:
Israeli authorities have laid down restrictions that expire a year after Mordechai’s release. The Supreme Court both accepted them as legal, and noted that they can be renewed when they expire. Presumably the authorities are also free to lift the restrictions before April 21, 2005. We do not know the thinking or discussions inside the involved bureaucracies (Minister of the Interior and the Home Front Command), but in meetings we should try to find out.
The good legal work done by ACRI (and previously Feldman) has not succeeded. It is unlikely that a strictly legal approach will be enough. On the other hand, we cannot properly lobby a court. The judges are not supposed to be swayed by demonstrations and “pressure”.
But it is possible with the law and the litigation rules to create de facto political pressure within the legal proceedings themselves, as set out below. This is a type of approach that is used by anti-nuclear and environment activists all over the world to promote their views and is considered of great value by lawyers who have done political/legal work in Israel for years.
Is this guaranteed to work? Of course not. But do we wait quietly to see if the sanctions will be lifted, as is possible? Or start cranking up the pressure?
Even if M has lost all trust in the authorities and stopped believing that the SC will ever grant any of his requests, he has agreed that it still is important to respond and fight the restrictions via administrative and court procedures.
4. Legal situation (long history of grave injustice)
1986: Illegal abduction from Britain/Italy, 1987 unjustifiably sentenced as spy/traitor, for act to protect Mid-East and world security, 1986-88 kept in strict solitary confinement in violation of ban against torture), 1988 denied parole after 2/3rds time, 2004 released from jail, but not to freedom forbidden to leave Israel and restrictions on movements, talk, speech, association.
To justify the restrictions Israel envokes the “national security” exception in the Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), claiming that M still has relevant secret and an intention of divulging them. This is clearly untenable, but the Supreme Court has accepted to exclude lawyers and experts for Vanunu from this core topic of the trials. That the restrictions on speech and association are untenable is beyond discussion.
Of present legal concern are the two orders of restrictions and subsequent judgment in the Supreme Court. The illegal abduction to Israel will not help in Israeli courts, but may be of help for political work and in some administrative procedures abroad to argue that he is technically, in law, in England/Italy.
History, facts, legal documents online, see: http://www.peaceispossible.info/update.html
5. International presence in a new case/ pack the court house
The new factor we wish to introduce is a massive international presence to exercise maximum legal (and political) pressure in the case and turn the public hearing into a powerful showing of world wide support for Mordechai and his contributions to world peace and security. This will help to counteract Israel´s defamation campaign, weaken the state´s ethical posture etc.
1. AMICUS BRIEFS: These are advisory briefs filed by outside lawyers when a given case presents legal questions of unusual importance. We can start lining up the most prestigious international human rights law groups that we know and ask them to write such briefs for the case. These are technically filed as “neutral” help to the court, not technically for Mordechai.
Although amicus briefs are rare in the Israeli system, they can be done. It is up to the Court to receive them or not. If “rejected” Vanunu´s lawyer will presumably be able to submit them as expert evidence, from prestigious groups specializing in international human rights law. Such amicus briefs will presumably have to be co-signed by an Israeli lawyer.
We need the main Vanunu Support groups (US; UK, Israel, Norway) get at least one or two such prestigious law organizations working on such a brief.
2. To turn the trial itself into a powerful political showcase, show international solidarity in large quantities and also to publicly weaken Israel´spositions this is what we suggest:
a. From as many law groups as possible…a delegation of at least 2-5 members who will travel to “observe” the hearing. I am thinking of groups like the Lawyers Guild or the American Association of Jurists for example…They can sit in the hearing and have pre-written press releases ready as to their positions on the case. The amicus groups can send observers but to the press they should comment more “neutrally” and could even hand out their amicus briefs….
b. Meanwhile, human rights, peace and environmental groups should also send delegations of observers…to sit in at the hearing and give statements to the press. Their job should be to stress Mordechai’s great contributions to nonproliferation, peace and environmental safety….
c. Nobel Laureates and other high status people
3. Harbury asked Avigdor Feldman (MV’s first attorney, still representing him in libel case) if there was any chance the court would rule on paperwork only and skip the public trial. He said that would be very very unlikely in a case like this, although anything is possible. If they do deny a public hearing, everyone should come anyway for an enormous press conference on why there was no hearing and what their positions are. One should also consider the possibility of holding a big one-day international conference in Israel on HR and democracy aspects just before the court hearing, so the travel will be useful even if the case is delayed or dealt with in camera. This may also be a way to generate some funding for travel to Israel.
Obviously long time individual supporters should come as well…but what the Court is going to notice will be the big name international groups….
4. Intervention and Joinder:
This is a long shot, but the idea is to shake up the balance of power within the lawsuit a little bit. The core will always be Mordechai and his rights. But it is possible to add strength, by cases raised by others whose own ICPPR freedoms, of speech, discussion, association, their “right to Mordechai” is being violated. Not a clear legal winner, but can be argued. The Israeli government may again envoke “national security”, but we must seek to have legal experts testify on human rights law ( in addition to the nuclear experts on the nuclear secrets).
a. The Eoloffs are probably the clearest example. They have adopted Mordechai and by Israel’s refusal to let him travel, the ISRAEL is depriving them in their old age of the chance to live with and enjoy the company of their son… etc. They have a strong interest under familial rights and Israel has shown respect for their rights.
b. People who would like to talk with M, hear him give speeches or see him participate in peace studies, take up a job somewhere etc. This is a little harder (may only be media point), but those who offer him a job to teach and/or work for world peace, and get a reponse letter from M saying he is not permitted to leave Israel. They could then - perhaps - claim that they have been deprived of their right to work and associate with an international leader who has given so much thought etc to their cause and has so much more to give to their work.
One special challenge could be an invitation to speak at the NPT in NY in April 2005. It would be a point with a high anti-nuclear relevance (to get sympathy from the court/authorities some other, more neutral, UN or similar invitation may be better it is a matter of policy whether the case is best served by maximum conflict level). (Irrespective of a case in Israel, it would be a fine idea to have many countries comment on Vanunu in the main (opening) speeches at the NPT cfrce).
c. Highlight freedom of speech and association by invitations to speak on his motive for whistleblowing, his ideas on democracy, responsibility of individuals etc. in short, groups could sue to assert their right to hear M’s side of the story.
5. Better judicial guarantees
The Heffermehl report on the July 27 judgment emphasizes the unacceptability of letting the judges sit for 3 hours to hear secret state evidence, without not even a lawyer for Vanunu present. In a new trial, we must request a change here, and insist on an arrangement that permits both lawyers and experts representing Vanunu be present and express their views on the secret evidence to the court. There must be some acceptable and trustworthy lawyer for M, and also a friendly, strong scientist.
Important to identify and invite international supporting organizations Nov/Dec so they can start planning and preparing to file action at appropriate time (just after potential renewal on April 21). At the same time, try an early, informal initiative to negotiate an early lifting of the restrictions, or at least avoid a repetition of the two orders. We have in mind a prestigious but small delegation to seek meetings with the relevant Israeli authorities in Jan/Feb to remind them of their international law obligations to let him go and inform of our plans for court proceeding (and other mobilization) if it becomes necessary (which we hope it won´t).
It is important to co-ordinate and act in understanding with MV and his attorneys, so these must be informed of the activities. For big and consequential activities, they must get a chance to comment, voice their views in advance.
Please let us hear from you. We invite interested lawyers and others to
join the committee and take action to secure freedom for Vanunu
write on the case in general and professional press
consider filing amicus briefs and/or sue on behalf of “other interests”
contribute financially towards the costs of the legal group
contribute financially towards information advertisements in Israeli press
Boston and Oslo, November 2004
Jennifer Harbury (email@example.com) Fredrik S. Heffermehl (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Please contact a national campaign (alternatively email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org) with ideas, recommendations and offers to assist with work …. or money!
Fredrik S. Heffermehl
World Peace Forum, Vancouver,
June 27, 2006, workshop
People fail and misbehave all the time, and so do systems and organizations. An unfortunate one-off or conscious mischief over a long time, small blunder or big and dangerous activity like reducing the levies (?) in New Orleans to accommodate bigger ships the wrongdoer will wish not to be discovered talked about. The risk is shame, being stopped, or even jail. But a wrong or bad practice kept secret cannot be stopped or repaired. It needs to be known and very often insider information is the only way.
A whistleblower is a person, often a present or former, employee, in private business or government, who reports misconduct to people or entities that have the power to take corrective action.
Having worked for the freedom of one particular WB, the Israeli nuclear technician Mordechai Vanunu for almost 20, I have come across countless examples of a very varied nature. One favorite is a French woman who, some 10 years ago, started as prison doctor in the famous “La Santè” prison in Paris. Many must have come with the same education to the same job before her, finding poor, atrocious, conditions, it was as if nothing much had happened during the last 200 years. Authoritarian, mismanaged, bad health conditions, bad food, all kinds of neglect and humiliation.
Why is it that so many start in a new job and soon adapt to a bad practice? People who blow the whistle seem to have an independent ego and a strong, personal integrity, a natural sense of morality and what is just and fair. We have Mr. Williams, a retired lawyer who took up work as consultant in the tobacco industry and shared research reports of how terribly addictive cigarettes are. Another Christoph Meili a Swiss student working night shift to finance his studies. He was asked to burn “some old protocols” and, discovering it was files on deposits by Jews in the 30s, stopped the bank from stealing the money of Jews dead under nazi rule.
But the finest acts may release surprising hostility. Meili was so disliked in Switzerland, for breaking the Swiss bank secrecy, that he had to flee and get political asylum in the US.
Generally the misconduct WBs report is a violation of law, rule, regulation and/or a direct threat to public interest -- -- -- fraud, health, safety violations, and corruption are just a few examples. The WB curve has taken a sharp upswing, in the last couple of decades, which in my view reflects a deep change in our culture. With the judgment in Nuremberg after WWII a new perception of the moral obligations of each of us became part of our collective moral standard.
Whistleblowing breaks dramatically with the tradition of subjugation, doing as superikors tell you - obey authority, the priest, the landlord, the industrialist our long history of slavery, subordination and humiliation is being broken by the ideas of HR, equality, democracy, the idea that every voice counts.
It is becoming accepted because it is so useful e.g.
Richard Smith, editor of the British Medical Journal, in 2000 called "whistleblowing" essential to secure quality Opening up a closed culture means that quality problems become known and addressed. A discussing, learning culture in the workplace is indispensible for trust, from patients and society. And, says Smith, it is neither healthy loyalty to colleagues nor good medical ethics to fail to report errors or suspicion of wrongdoing.
Because it is so useful, it is becoming encouraged by law in many countries, Great Britain got a law in 1998, Sweden, Norway - everywhere. The US has a particularly long, strong and rich tradition.
A typical purpose of these laws is to protect whistleblowers, against revenge and punishment. People considering to B W have feared adverse career consequences, and studies show they have every reason to do so. The organization often will shoot the messenger even if he is helpful, he causes embarassment. By the way, he frequently comes in blouse and skirts - surprisingly often he is a she, and an intrepid one.
An important distinction is between internal and external WB. While it is often required or expected that one should, if the situation permits, first complain inside the system and only when this fails to produce results is it OK to go to the media.
Obviously whistleblowers play an essential role in our political governance. Democracy requires open and informed discussion, based on correct and complete information.
This realization has led to legislation in Scandinavian countries that makes all files of the public administration accessible to anyone in the public at any time, exception only were specifically provided for in the act (private, medical, foreign affairs etc.). Very often it is not enough that the public can check, they need people who are so familiar with the situation that they can tell where and what to take an extra look on.
While we, easily, appreciate WB in the civilian sector, when we get to the military sector many seem willing to accept rightaway that the military needs secrecy. To offer efficient protection one must shield info from the enemy. To a certain extent this is right, but it definitely is also incorrect. There is a need to distinguish between the information that can help the enemy and the information that can help the population exercise democratic control.
This is reflected in § 1034 of the US mil. code, on protected communications, which says that “No person may restrict a member of the armed forces in communicating with a Member of Congress or an Inspector General … and not take (or threaten to take) an unfavorable personnel action, or withhold (or threaten to withhold) a favorable personnel action, as a reprisal against a member of the armed forces for making or preparing a communication to a Member of Congress or an Inspector General.
The disappointment appears in the examples mentioned in the act. It is right to disclose information one “reasonably believes” constitutes evidence of, any of the following:
(A) A violation of law or regulation, including a law or regulation prohibiting sexual harassment or unlawful discrimination.
(B) Gross mismanagement, a gross waste of funds, an abuse of authority, or a substantial and specific danger to public health or safety.
There are in the US an impressive number of cases where people have blown the whistle on military procurement, excessive spending but as we can suspect, there is also a high risk of ending under prosecution for telling on military plans, weapons, warning and guidance systems, and operations. Which mean that these are beyond democratic control, - until they leave a mark on the battlefield, example: DU weapons.
One should be cautious - the words of the statute permitting to whistle on “substantial and specific danger to public health or safety” is hardly an invitation to question the military project as such.
Now a few words on one case I have followed intimately, through 18 years of struggle for his freedom:
Mordechai Vanunu, the Israeli whistleblower, was a junior technician at the Israeli nuclear plant at Dimona, an operation surrounded by extreme secrecy. He was an investigative and curious mind, asked questions and soon understood he was part of a bomb program that in his view put regional security and the wider world ein danger. He ended up giving his knowledge in the form of photos to the Sunday Times in London.
What followed was the most incredible series of human rights violations, from an abduction by Israeli agents from London, via secret trial, 12 years of solitary confinement, and even at the end of his 18 years jail term not freedom, but indefinite house arrest. So much for Israeli democracy and rule of law.
What had he done to deserve being treated as Public Enemy no. 1? He only told the world what the world already knew (Israel has nuclear weapons), and documented it by photos from inside the plant. He just made clear to the neighbors of Israel that the country had nukes but what harm did that do? What use is a deterrent weapon kept secret?
Meaningless, but the reality is worse. Hardly anyone in Israel is aware that Mordechai also tried to protect them from a very real danger. Researching a book that I published six months ago, I became aware that Vanunu had told the London Sunday Times of the extremely sloppy working morale at the plant. On the night shifts almost the whole workforce was asleep or playing cards not at their different posts.
When the plant employs 42 people to check all aspects of the operations all through the night, it is because they deem this necessary for safe operation. When the workers behave fully irresponsible in such a responsibility it is obviously a public service to take action, make it known. It should be rewarded, not punished. The Sunday Times never published this information.
I do not know the details of the US system of triple compensation, but, clearly it is a very definite economic incentive to WB. There may not only be the carrot solution also a clear obligation, under criminal liability, to whistleblow in certain situations has been seriously considered by lawmakers.
If whistleblowing on danger and mismanagement around a nuclear reactor is laudable, is there less need for it regarding nuclear weapons and other dangerous military plans and activities?
(France wasted perverse amounts between the two world wars, on the Wall along all the border against Germany was there no one who saw that it would be easy to invade via Belgium? )
There are many Maginot lines in the history of military. When the stupidity has cost a sufficient amount, it becomes impossible to blow the whistle, the consequences are too great.
We have no problem with WB in most fields. Should the greatest danger of all, military security, nevertheless be excepted? A defense system must be concealed from the enemy, for the sake of our maximum protection many yield to military logic. At the same time defense is politics, big money, perverse spending and immense risk of destruction. Hardly anywhere is the need for democratic control greater. There are many dilemmas here.
A twenty years old history book on IPB, the International Peace Bureau, tells that in the late 1950s circles within the military in Sweden toyed with the idea of a Swedish nuclear bomb. However, in 1957, their plans became known. To begin with polls showed a tiny majority in favor of Sweden acquiring such weapons, but some concerned citizens were alarmed and took action. It took only two years to have a strong majority against.
Cannot the needs of democratic debate be served by a discussion of principles, do we need to reveal what the actual situation is? In Norway, 20 years ago, the magazine of the WRI wished to warn Norwegians against the dangers of assisting the US nuclear war plans against the Soviet union. They published evidence of certain surveillance systems serving such functions for nuclear war and were acquitted when it was found that the information was not totally secret. But did they need to publish? I think yes, the concrete situation is essential to have a realistic debate, otherwise it will be claimed that one does not engage in hypothetical debates.
There are some very concrete effects of WB one is to uphold the Truth. The world is so full of lies, WB makes it more difficult for officials and CEOs to lie to the public and get away with it. The other is to enforce the law, stop illegal activities by bringing them to public knowledge.
Towards the end of my book on “Vanunu”, I have some remarks on Whistleblowing for the Future and a future for Whistleblowing
It is clear that Vanunu through his act became a moral guide and inspiration to others. The Jewish psychiatrist and philosopher, Victor E Frankl writes that AT TIMES the conscience of one single individual may lead the person to do
something which is at odds with the ideas in the society he or she belongs to - for instance in his/her tribe". One single cannibal choosing to spare the life of an enemy and committing the revolutionary and unusual act of "Thou shallst not kill”. A value that is rare today, may become universal tomorrow. It is in this way that religions are created and values developd", Frankl writes.
A good illustration of how common warning has become today, can be seen in the period leading up to the Iraq War. It is clear that Bush had decided to topple Saddam Hussein several years before Sept 11 2001. The war against Iraq had already been decided upon, and the attempt to put pressure on the UN Security Council to accept the war was only a showpiece. Bush was unable to get the UN to accept the most serious crime known in international law, namely to initiate aggressive war. The morals of the US could be expressed this way: 'Either you do as we wish, or we do as we wish´'."
In this situation there were many people in different countries who had problems with morals and their own conscience. Numerous insiders were so upset by the plans to deceive the world that they went public with their knowledge.
The first two shots across the bow fired a couple of years earlier, from two whistleblowers in the service of the UN in Iraq who were in charge of the humanitarian 'Oil for Food' programme. They felt that that UN sanctions were destroying Iraq and were illegal. One after one, the two, Dennis Halliday and Hans Von Sponeck laid down their work and then published a joint statement against the war plans which they connected, among other, with the open admission of Henry Kissinger: "Oil is a much too important commodity to be left with the Arabs.".
Before the war started Catharine Gunn reacted; she was an interpreter in the British intelligence service, around 30. She got her hands on some documents which clearly indicated that the US and UK were tapping the phone calls of several members of the UN Security Council during the period when the US was doing its utmost (and a little more) to put pressure to bear on the Security Council to have it support Bush's war. Gunn acted on practical and simple ethics where the eavesdropping on diplomatic phones both at work and home and interception of emails, was both a horrifying illegality The Vienna convention on diplomatic immunity - so objectionable that she saw a personal obligation to make this known to the public.
This became an international scandal in the media, embarrassing to the secret police. Gunn risked losing her job and being given a long sentence but the prosecution withdrew their case immediately before it opened in court. Member states of the UN had made use of gangster methods in the world organisation. Whistleblowers often find that the authorities prefer as little attention as possible to be given to their sins.
Gunn was not alone. It was apparent that Bush and Blair were hurtling towards a war, they were like a runaway train. It was impressive how many were shooting across their bow to try to intercept them. They includeed numerous highly placed intelligence people, presidential advisors, military and even members of cabinets. Some examples: Scott Ritter, an American with years of experience as a weapons inspector for the UN in Iraq, showed that Bush was lying about Iraq as a military threat. John Brady Keisling, an American diplomat in Athens, resigned and left his position under loud protests. Claire Short, British cabinet minister resigned - she had seen too many transcripts of Koffi Annan's private telephone conversations. A Danish intelligence officer, Frank Grevil, told the media that the Prime Minister had sent Denmark into a war lying about the reports he had received from the Danish intelligence service. Grevil had to leave his job and was sentenced to six months in jail - which he appealed.
One of the veteran whistleblowers, Daniel Ellsberg, would very much have liked to have had the example of Vanunu much earlier. But in the spring of 2004 he said that he was very happy to see a completely new willingness to tell, say the whole story and say it early and more publicly than before: “Some are critical but to me the whistleblowers are heroes. They act in the right way in very dangerous situations. Truths that earlier took many years to become public knowledge are now revealed in a matter of months or shorter.”
It certainly has helped that the world has seen examples, like Vanunu and Ellsberg. But other factors have also played a part. Before, the lower ranks had to be obedient, anonymous and invisible. Today, respect for authority and blind obedience are not as much of an ideal. To pose questions and not be an obedient tool is entirely in keeping with the Nuremberg judgment. This judgment states that following orders from superiors and the laws of the country does not exempt one from criminal responsibility. This principle of individual responsibility has become part of the collective moral consciousness of humanity. Such changes in the deep culture also have a bearing on the possibility of a peaceful world.
And Vanunu confirms that Nuremberg partly motivated him. His whistleblowing has contributed to a whole explosion of whistleblowing both in public and private service. All the time we are learning from each other, we take and give examples.
Every time we use the right to free speech and debate we defend it for the future. Every time we blow the whistle we set an example for others. There is no doubt that Vanunu´s example has inspired others. Daniel Ellsberg regrets that he did not know of Vanunu´s example when, as a young aide to the US President, he sat there with a top secret paper in his hands a paper where the US Chiefs of Staff had calculated the likely loss of lives in the Soviet Union and Europe in the event of nuclear war at 800 million lives! Secret and serious plans for over 100 Holocausts!
A Russian expert revealed the illegal Soviet program for Chemical weapons as a direct result of Vanunu´s example.
Our world needs loyalty, it needs people who speak up, who blow the whistle, who say like Mordechai Vanunu "If I don´t tell the truth, who will?"
11. SURVEY - political work to free Vanunu
Lawyers for Full Freedom for Vanunu
Jennifer Harbury, Boston, USA (email@example.com)
Fredrik S. Heffermehl, Oslo, Norway (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Boston/Oslo, 10 November 2004
SURVEY - political work to free Vanunu:
1. The group´s discussions in Jerusalem July/Oct. In addition to legal approach (see separate sheet) we also brainstormed and circulated ideas on all the other work that could be done. There is much overlap and synergy between the two fields.
2. Background: The situation in Vanunu´s case for full freedom:
Israeli authorities have laid down restrictions that expire a year after Mordechai’s release. The Supreme Court both accepted them as legal, and noted that they can be renewed when they expire.
Israel is guilty of a long history of grave crimes against Vanunu: 1986: Illegal abduction from Britain/Italy, 1987 unjustifiably sentenced as spy/traitor, for act to protect Mid-East and world security, 1986-88 kept in strict solitary confinement in violation of ban against torture, 1988 denied parole after 2/3rds time, 2004 released from jail, but forbidden to leave Israel and under restrictions on movements, talk, speech, association.
To justify the restrictions Israel envokes the “national security” exception in the Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), claiming that M still has relevant secrets and an intention of divulging them. This is clearly untenable, but the Supreme Court has all along accepted to deal with this core topic of the trials in camera, excluding both lawyers and experts for Vanunu. The restrictions on speech and association are untenable is beyond discussion.
After the release we have had a low profile to permit Israel to solve the matter discreetly. This still is an opiton, BUT - if Israel does not lift all restrictions or signal a date for this by mid-February - we need to launch a massive effort, stepping up what we have been doing for years, but also put in motion many new ideas.
3. Goal: Release (passport) at the earliest possible date, either
through Israeli administrative authorities lifting the restrictions
throuigh an Israeli court order permitting Vanunu to leave Israel
a. Information and education of politicians, public, media in Israel points to hammer:
MV acted from high and solid, ethical political, democratic principles
MV did not harm Israel, he made the deterrent weapon known and efffective
MV - great personal sacrifice for the security of people in ME and world
People everywhere else have high respect for him is rest of the world wrong?
Restrictions only prolong international attention on Israel’s nuclear weapons
MV never received money
MV was, and is, a political prisoner having different view of security, morality and democracy, need for whistleblowers to protect against government wrongs
Now clear that nuclear damage has happened (leaks, workers ill) and that Dimona plant is dangerous (built on an earthquake fault line). So, the Israeli government created risk of new Holocaust. Vanunu, the whistleblower is an important defender of people and fellow workers.
The undemocratic ideas and ethics behind overly punishing a whistleblower
b. Legal actions directed towards the Israeli authorities and court (separate paper)
c. Get foreign/international media to exercise influence on Israeli authorities + public
d. Bringing pressure from international bodies (UN, EU), such as the Pax Christi/Eolof request to UNHCHR (High Comm on HR) to appoint special rapporteur. Red Cross?
5. List of EXAMPLES: PUBLICITY / PUBLIC RELATIONS
1. Get support/protection for MV from countries round the world
(NB not just invitations. Countries must put pressure on Israel to let MV leave. )
2. Get MV many work and education offers from prestigious places round the world
(Many countries/institutions/associations offering student or work visas and or asylum, are good, but this does not force Israel to let MV leave Israel. But it serves to show authorities, judges and the public that MV is supported and respected around the world).
3. Lobby with Israel’s embassies etc to press hard for end to restrictions and departure.
4. Organize progressive American Jews to speak out in a mass petition to the Knesset
5. - same with progressive Israeli Jews
6. Statements from many many nuclear experts at prestigious places (= no secrets)
7. Physchologist view on harm from staying in hostile environment of original trauma
8. Contact Israeli embassies and press for no extension of the restrictions past April
9. Consider hiring a PR specialist to advise us as to what will or will not pull in sympathetic journalists. In the US at least this is a fine art…and to advise on our press releases etc et…this costs a fortune but we could try to get a grant…
10. Desirable MV speaks on nuclear issues to Israeli audiences, particularly youth
11. Possibly make a small cartoon of the Vanunu story 4 pages distribute via web.
12. Petitions in newspaper ads from Israels, prominent lawyers, culture peronalities.
13. Make legal materials available on website and collect positive statements from prominent Israelis after release, that he is no danger, that it is stupid to keep Vanunu.
Following points, 14 17, are received from US Campaign:
14. Get articles written and in alternative press with 6 month update after release, re: restrictions, etc. Lots of supporters (beyond campaign mailing lists) are no longer aware of his problem after seeing the press coverage on Mordechai's release on April 21, so we need to educate and include a suggested course of action (what officials to write to, etc.)
15. Continue to nominate Mordechai for honors, awards, honorary doctorates; continue Mordechai's participation in anti-nuclear conferences and gatherings via someone reading a speech or phone hook-up
16. Consider developing a very short video for people to use, maybe purchase, can be shown at meetings, etc. Include info on restrictions, what people can do, campaign websites and of course Mordechai speaking. This is likely a significant project and probably expensive and time-consuming so might not be feasible. Although perhaps the video the British campaign will make for their benefit can be the foundation, and maybe a short bit can be added to that?? So I'd suggest this for a back burner and let's wait for feedback, insight from the British campaign after they do their video. (Possible to use some extracts from existing videos BBC interviews etc?? Do we have a video maker?)
17. A new basic campaign brochure - There are just newsletters and the websites, but no updated campaign literature such as a simple flyer or brochure. I see a need for one.
18. Activities directed towards the big 2005 international nuclear conference NPT (the Treaty on Non-proliferation and Nuclear Disarmament). In connection with IAEA, arms inspection, the delegations should in their main speeches laud Mordechai and ask for his immediate freedom. Try to make his case visible as key example of anti-nuclear courage.
Issam Makhoul could speak in NGO presentations at the 2005 NPT Review conference
19. Pursue wish that M gets UN travel papers (to the successful arms inspector in ME)
20. Organize a 2005 ”Vanunu freedom conference” to highlight security, whistleblowing, democracy and human rights. Preferably in Jerusalem, but then risk harassment by authorities refusing entry to speakers/participants or cancellation if conflict worsens. Alternative: Rome. Repeat in 2006, 2007 if still needed. MV suggested also other cities.
20. All this will require a LOT of fundraising (give to accounts for national Vanunu campaigns, which can be found on their websites or via www.vanunu.org).
Boston / Oslo, November 10, 2004
Jennifer Harbury Fredrik S. Heffermehl
Please contact your national campaign (or, alternatively let us hear from you) with ideas, recommendations and offers to assist with work …. or money!
||9. DID VANUNU GET JUSTICE AND A FAIR TRIAL IN ISRAEL’S HIGH COURT?
REPORT ON THE SUPREME COURT JUDGMENT OF 26 JULY 2004
By Fredrik S. Heffermehl, legal observer of trial
dealing with Mordehai Vanunu’s petition for full freedom.
(Below is only the chapter VI. Main conclusions
but the full document can be found here)
or the document may be downloaded from here(694KB)
VI. Main conclusions
At the core of the court´s decision lies the premises that Vanunu has more secrets, that are not known and that could harm. A ”national security” need is the only possible basis for not letting Vanunu leave (Under ICCPR Art. 12 everyone is entitled to leave his country). In violation of ICCPR Art. 14 this key question in the case was dealt with in a secret proceeding and we only have the court´s conclusion, without facts or reasons.
The existence of further secrets remains a postulate, where our conclusion must depend on whether we can trust Israel’s will to respect the law and treat Vanunu with fairness. Unfortunately, the opposite has been demonstrated from the start of the case: first the brutal and illegal kidnapping, then the libellous presentation of him as a spy and a traitor who acted for money, then the secret trial, the torture of 12 years in isolation etc.
Israeli leaders disagree with Vanunu on whether nuclear weapons serve national security and should be known to the public. But it is hard to see any point for Vanunu’s political goals, or additional harm, in proving again what was 100 % proven in 1986.
Where the evidence is accounted for, a.o. his mentality and intentions, the logic and conclusions are far from convincing.
That the restrictions are necessary is questionable, not only relating to what secrets Vanunu could have today, but also because, wherever he may live, if he should break Israeli law in future, he would risk trouble and serious consequences.
The restrictions appear arbitrary and in excess even of their own stated purpose, when they ban talk to foreigners and to foreign journalists. This specific restriction suggests a wish to limit freedom of speech.
A likely motive behind the persecution of Vanunu may be to teach others that disobedience will draw draconic consequences. The 2003 BBC film ”Israel’s Secret Weapon” documented that Israel protects all nuclear information with a taboo so strict that e.g. workers with radiation illness cannot claim compensation.
The court notes both that the restrictions are burdensome and may be inefficient, but despite these two findings does not consider his situation and demand that the State respects its legal obligation to protect Vanunu’s life and personal security.
The basic attitude of Israeli authorities, that Vanunu is a traitor seeking to harm the State, fails to draw the conclusion from available evidence, that Vanunu is a man with a political and moral agenda, and is a matter for politics, not for police.
The Judgment of the Supreme Court of Israel in the Vanunu case lacks legitimacy, since it fails to comply with basic principles of fair trial, international law and human rights standards. The court´s evaluation of facts is either unknown or unconvincing.
Oslo, 16 August, 2004
Fredrik S. Heffermehl
7. Vanunu still seeking freedom
(IPS - Jerusalem 12.07.04)
By Fredrik S. Heffermehl
Sunday, only 3 months after his release from 18 years of jail in Israel, Mordechai Vanunu, Israel´s nuclear whistleblower, was back in his country´s judicial system. This time to demand his full freedom and the lifting of restrictions imposed upon him by the Israeli authorities, restrictions that bar him from talking to foreigners, in particular journalists, and from leaving the country.
Vanunu actually never gave away secrets, he just warned against a self-inflicted holocaust for Israel. When, in 1986, he handed over photos from his workplace, the Dimona nuclear reactor, he brought common knowledge in military and foreign affairs circles known to the general public. The probably worst part of it was that he blew Israel´s policy of nuclear ambiguity, and broke a taboo and a strict tribal demand of loyalty in the Jewish state.
We talked with him Sunday, after the hearing in the Supreme Court of Israel:
- This state has a strange concept of justice, Vanunu said, the court was open 12 minutes in the beginning, and 15 minutes in the end. In the intervening almost 2 1/2 hours, the three judges listened to the state´s presentation in camera of secret evidence and witnesses, so secret that neither I nor my lawyers were permitted to attend.
In a closed 15 minutes session with Vanunu and his lawyers only, the focus was on a notebook Vanunu wrote in prison in 1991, containing recollections on Dimona. - This was only mental training to keep and train my mind during years of total isolation, says Vanunu, but the State is making a big point of the fact that I can reproduce information on Dimona any time. What they fail to admit is that what I can reproduce is no secret and cannot harm Israeli national security. Therefore it cannot be the basis of continuing restrictions, says Vanunu. They are punishing me for their own fantasies of what I might do in the future. I have no secrets, and would not publish them if I had. The state knows my intentions and motives.
- - Should the judges go along with the reasoning of the State, the consequence would be that I cannot be given my full freedom before I have lost my mind and memory, a preposterous idea of justice. And meaningless as well, because I am already in my present life seeing so many people - if I had had any secrets I could reveal them. I have made my point, why should I give details on Dimona today? It could not serve anyy purpose. Quite on the contrary, the State has been able to see who I am and what I stand for. It was my studies of moral and philosophical issues that led me to an act of consciousness, they have read my letters for 17 1/2 years - I may not have followed blind loyalty to my superiors, but my motive was to protect Israel and the world from immense harm, potential total destruction. I would like to challenge the government to show an example that I have acted in disloyalty or to harm Israel.
Since, under international law, Israel was obliged to give Vanunu full rights as a normal citizen when he had served his sentence, except if there was a "national security" issue involved, the judges in Sunday´s first short session, rightly, pointed out that the question of secrets was a key factor in the case.
Both foreign and Israeli experts hold that today Vanunu has no secrets of interest. He was a subordinate technician and what he had to give to the Sunday Times back in 1986 was photos. If a state wishes to envoke national security, it has to specify and explain such reasons and a relevant secret cannot be something which is already published and in the open. Much more information on nuclear weapons than Vanunu ever knew is today available on the Internet.
-- I should like to see a new whistleblower from Israel´s security services come forward and reveal that they are making up this story of me as a dangerous person and State enemy number one, says Vanunu.
If the judges should go along with depriving Mordechai of his rights on the basis that he has a good memory, this situation will be the same in 2 weeks, 2 years, 2 decades. So, the decision now is crucial for his future.
The good thing is that the high Court took a full hearing now and did not postpone its decision untill a later hearing, but announced that it will come with a verdict soon. Vanunu, having waited for 17 1/2 year to regain the freedom.
Mordechai feels proud to have set an example which many have followed since. What has happened recently is that whistleblowers come forward much faster, they do not wait for decades before they offer their knowledge. The Iraq war is steeped with examples of whistleblowers who have brought considerable embarassments to US president Bush and British PM Blair. My question what inspired Vanunu to blow the whistle produces a surprising answer:
-- Holywood! I saw movies on nuclear devastation like "The China Syndrome" and "The Day After", and an example of moral integrity enacted by Meryl Streep in the film on Karen Silkwood. In 1986 we also had the Chernobyl disaster. All these impulses, together with my academic pursuits in philosophy and ethics, made it a matter of conscience for me to warn people and try to raise a public, democratic
debate on the nuclear danger, says Mordechai Vanunu, who has seen the nuclear debate picking up in Israel in the months around his release - and who thinks it is high time the State thanks him, rather than go on punishing him forever.
Jaffa, April 22, 2004
5. Despite restrictions, Vanunu met international friends
By Fredrik S. Heffermehl
Mordechai Vanunu got a royal farewell with Ashkelon prison. People all over the world have seen the images where he takes a deep breath and then crosses the threshold between his miserable 18 years of torture, most of them in solitary, diving resolutely into the throng of waiting cameras, supporters, hecklers, police in strong force and helicopters chopping over head. It was a historic moment in the struggle for nuclear disarmament, when the person who has suffered more than everybody else for his conviction that nuclear weapons must be eliminated left prison.
In short, poignant sentences to the press Vanunu, rejoiced in having withstood the attempts at destroying him, called himself a testimony to the strength of the human spirit and went on to emphasize that he had no secrets, had not harmed Israel´s interests and that he had a right to live without restrictions and to leave the country.
The restrictions laid down by secret police and the ban on travel for one year imposed by the minister of homeland security, include not meeting face to face with foreigners, in particular press (if he is approached by press, he should report such incidents to the police), were suspended for some hours Wednesday evening, to permit the 100 supporters from all over the world to meet their hero.
-- I could not believe my eyes and ears, says Fredrik S. Heffermehl, a Norwegian who has corresponded with Vanunu for 16 years and nominated him for the Nobel Peace Prize in the last 15 years. I had expected to see the sorry remains of a mentally exhausted fellow who would be uncomfortable surrounded by so many people. Mordechai looked well, tanned and related to everybody in two speeches. He circulated at ease and talked with visible pleasure with everybody. Everybody. He took meticulous care to identify as many as possible of the friends he had only met by mail and thank them. In not a little exaggeration he said that his supporters were the real heroes in this case.
It must have taken an extraordinary stubbornnes and survival instinct to get
through his ordeal alive, an absolute determination not to give the system the joy of succeeding to breaking him, seems to be the core factor in his rescuing his sound mind. When I commented on his strength in facing the world and the waiting world press, he said "The strength of 18 years in prison".
Due to all the hostility engendered by parts of the media and the extremely tense and volatile situation in Israel, Vanunu will stay confined to the St. George´s church compound in Jerusalem for some time. He hopes his appeals against the restrictions will succeed and that he will be free to leave Israel soon.
Vanunu yesterday directed a special appeal to Norway to give him a passport on humanitarian grounds. His Norwegian supporters have already raised his situation with Norwegian authorities and feel strong hope that Norway will find a way to come to Vanunu´s assistance.
During my several talks with him, Vanunu sent greetings to specific friends in Norway and also appreciated a special greeting I had for him from the University of Tromsø, where Vanunu became an Honorary Doctor in May 2001, saying he looks very much forward to visiting Tromsoe.
Fredrik S. Heffermehl
International Vanunu Committee
(phone: +972 3 682 0429 - cellular: +972 056 341 697
For Norwegian-speaking people
2. Kronikk i Dagbladet
Hilsen fra Jaffa, 18.04.04
(På Internet vet man jo aldri hvor i verden folk er, men dette skrives til tonene av bølgende korsang fra messe i synagogen rett under min balkong):
Hadde ikke USA holdt sin hånd over Israel er det mye som ikke ville vært mulig,blant annet henrettelsen i går kveld, og behandlingen av landets atomvåpen og Vanunu. Hadde Israel ikke hatt atomvåpen ville de kanskje handlet med mer ydmykhet og respekt for andre.
Min artikkel, ganske krass, om Israels behandling av Mordechai Vanunu og den aktuelle situasjon med trusler om streng husarrest efter at han har sonet sin fulle straff på 18 år fins i dag som kronikk i Dagbladet: http://www.dagbladet.no/kultur/2004/04/18/396064.html
Fredrik S. Heffermehl
Jaffa, 17. April 2004
1. THE MYTHS AROUND MORDECHAI VANUNU
by Fredrik S. Heffermehl, Oslo:
When will Israel stop to torture Mordechai Vanunu? He is the employee whose photos from the Dimona nuclear plant in 1986 documented to the whole world that Israel has nuclear weapons.
In April 1996, reading up on the case on my way to meetings with members of the Nethanyahu cabinet, I found a statement from Amnesty in 1990 that Vanunu during three years in solitary confinement had suffered excessive and inhuman treatment and must be released at once. Today, 14 years later, Vanunu is still in prison. But on April 21 he will be free.
Free, we believed. But, the 100 supporters from all around the world who are now on their way to Israel may be in for a sad surprise.
Israeli press reports that Israel may not honour the basic principle that a person who has paid his debt to society is a free citizen. He may be kept in house arrest, with a ban on contact, in any form, with non-Israelis.
After trying, for 16 years, to correct the common mistake that Vanunu is an advanced phycisist, it recently struck me: of course, it i s impossible! Our brain repairs reality. It draws conclusions and tries to make sense, even where there is none. An extremely harsh sentence must be for a man with very dark and dangerous secrets, it thinks in us.
But there is no sense in any corner of this case, the government position is intellectual, legal, moral and political legitimacy.
Vanunu may be a difficult political activist, but democracies don´t lock up opinions. He has no harmful secrets and he did not harm Israel in the first place (a secret weapon of deterrence is an inherent impossibility). Even if he had been an advanced phycisist, his information would have been dated after 4-8 years in jail and Vanunu was in a subordinate job.
His problem seems to be the intelligence services. They like to be in control, but slipped. Vanunu humiliated them and they seem determined to haunt him to the end of the world and time.
But, reality is catching up with the services. They got a solid surprise when they took the assertion that Vanunu was a danger to Israeli security into the public debate. People and commentators have reacted with sarcastic irony, or ridicule. An overconfident intelligence service must have underestimated the common sense of people, after the easy match they always had in obedient Israeli courts.
Public debate is what Vanunu wanted, and it turns out to be favorable to him. It should help Vanunu´s standing that whistleblowing is becoming more and more frequent, as a necessary means of defense against politicians who betray the public trust, by lying and concealing the truth. More and more whistleblowing appears indispensible also in military and security matters.
Under international treaties Vanunu is entitled to his full freedom, talk to anyone and to leave the country as he may wish. Israel should respect this and not let the intelligence services further blemish their reputation as a democracy under the rule of law. It will be unusual cruelty if Vanunu ´after such excessively inhuman prison conditions´ should not be permitted to hug friends on April 21.
Fredrik S. Heffermehl
International Vanunu committee
Below is a link to Yael Lotan's translation of the full text of the Supreme Court decision of July 26, 2004 regarding the restrictions imposed on Mordechai Vanunu.
Chief Legal Counsel
The Association for Civil Rights in Israel
The Judgment can be found here
or download the document here (218KB)
6. "I Am Happy and Proud to Do What I Did"
by Mordechai Vanunu
Excerpts from the news conference with Mordechai Vanunu held upon his release from an Israeli prison after serving 18 years for disclosing Israel's nuclear secrets.
I have a statement to tell you. I'm speaking only in English. I'm not speaking in Hebrew. If Israel don't let me to speak to foreigners, I'm not speaking in Hebrew.
I have a statement to read: I am Mordechai Vanunu, the man behind The Sunday Times article from October 5, 1986, the article about Israel's nuclear weapons.
I was kidnapped in Rome, Italy, by Israel's spy on September 13, and I was brought to Israel, arrived to Ashkelon prison on October 7. I was here, I am here in the prison, in this prison Ashkelon prison from October 7 1986, until today, 17 and a half years, in very cruel barbaric treatment by Israel's spy Mossad, Shabak.
This prison is guided and controlled by Shabak Mossad. The prisoners, the guards, the guards are only obeying orders of Shabak Mossad. In this prison you have a section seven by the Shabak Mossad. ...
(In Hebrew): I tell the Israelis if you discriminate and prevent me from talking to citizens abroad then I am also not talking to you in Hebrew. If you decide who, and discriminate between Jews and foreign citizens then you are a dictatorship and an apartheid country. You yourselves are conducting a racist policy.
(In English): To all those who are calling me traitor, I am saying: I am proud, I am proud and happy to do what I did. I am very glad I succeed to do what I did. I don't have any secrets. All this bull****, blah blah blah about secrets is dead. My case is dead. Since the article was published, there is no more any secrets. All the secrets were published in the hand of all the world, all the world, all the states, 180 states received these secrets and now I am ready to start my life, to do for my life.
I am not harming Israel, I am not interested in Israel. I am, I want to tell you something very important. I suffered here 18 years because I am Christian, because I was baptised into Christianity. If I was a Jewish, I wouldn't have all this suffering here in isolation for 18 years only because I was a Christian.
I say Vanunu Mordechai saying he don't need a Jewish state. Vanunu Mordechai don't want to live in Israel and don't need a Jewish state. I said Israel don't need nuclear especially now that all the Middle East is free from nuclear weapons, Iraq don't have a nuclear weapons, Libya ... Egypt. All the Middle East is free from nuclear weapons.
My message today to all the world is open Dimona reactor for inspection, open Dimona reactor for inspection. I said to the Shabak Mossad you didn't succeed, you didn't succeed, you didn't succeed to break me. You didn't succeed to make me crazy, the target of 18 years of isolation is to make me crazy.
This will be a symbol that a free man can survive, a free spirit can exist. There is no human being that can destroy the freedom of speech, the will of freedom, the man who want to be free. I'm a hero? I think that all those who are standing behind me and supporting me, all those who continue to be my friends for 18 years, all are heroes.
What I want to say is that this day I am free but not total free. I hoped that after 17 and a half years I can leave Israel. My symbol as I said is about the will of freedom, the human spirit. I am a symbol of the will of freedom that you cannot destroy the human spirit. ...
I will continue to speak against all kinds of nuclear weapons, against all democracies nuclear weapons. I want to say this day, I want the President of the United States, George Bush, Tony Blair, Gerhard Schroeder, Vladimir Putin, all the leaders to do for my release from Israel, to leave Israel, and now all those leaders should deal and speak about Israel nuclear secrets. I come to end this silence and secret cooperation by the West: United States, Canada and all Europe helping Israel, co-operating with Israel. ...
Of course, I'm free to speak. They found some papers that I wrote about what I worked, but I wrote it in 1991 when I had nothing to do, I wrote it for myself. They have nothing to fear from me. I don't have any secrets, I don't want to harm Israel, I want to leave Israel and start new life. I want to go to the United States to start my life to study history to teach history.
They take all the copies of all my letters to my friends, all my copies of my letters to my friends. I am going to the church to give thanks to my friends and to God, Jesus Christ for the support for 18 years. I am going to the St. George Church in Jerusalem and later I will start my life.
I was kidnapped immediately after we land in Italy. We went to an apartment as soon as I went into the apartment they attacked me, one Israeli and one Frenchman. They drug me, they drug me, they drug me, they took me in a car, from the car we went to the beach, an isolated beach, a commando boat, from the commando boat to a small yacht. There I was chained for seven days, we speak only English. I ask them: "Who are you?" They say we are here Israelis, French English. After seven days we arrived near to Caesaria beach.
April 21, 2004
4. "I am Mordechai Vanunu. I'm proud and happy to do what I did."
With these words to the world, Israel's captive declared his freedom today, after 18 years of "cruel and barbaric" treatment in prison for telling the truth about Israel's secret nuclear arsenal
At 11 am, Vanunu walked out the door into Shikma prison's entry yard. A roar erupted from hundreds of demonstrators outside the locked main gate. Supporters at the gate were jostled by detractors behind, some shouting "Kill Vanunu!"
Moving deliberately past the press, surrounded and trailed by assorted officials and guards, Vanunu walked to the gate. Holding both hands high with the signs of victory and peace, he stepped up, onto the bars to see and acknowledge his supporters.
His brothers Asher and Meir, and Meir's young son Luca, had accompanied Vanunu out the door, and rejoined him as he returned to the forest of cameras and microphones.
Vanunu made a statement in English. I have no more secrets to tell; I want to leave Israel but they are restricting me. My treatment was cruel and barbaric; I was punished hard because I am became a Christian. I am a symbol of survival of the human spirit of freedom. I don't want to harm Israel. Open the Dimona reactor for inspection. I want to go to the United States and marry and have a life.
Vanunu then responded to questions for several minutes as Meir nudged him to quit repeatedly. Given the extreme restrictions placed on Vanunu's actions, Meir looked concerned that his brother might talk himself back into prison.
Asked about being a hero, Vanunu replied, "All those who stood behind me and who supported me for 18 years are the heroes."
Vanunu made a point to speak of his kidnapping in Italy, and to say that a photo of the woman reported to be "Cindy" was not the female Mossad agent who lured him to Rome in September 1986.
And he told the press, "I want President Bush, and Tony Blair, Gerhardt Schroeder, and Putin to [work] for my release from Israel."
Before getting into a car, Mordechai Vanunu said he was going to St. George's Anglican Church in Jerusalem to give thanks to God.
U.S. Campaign to Free Mordechai Vanunu
520-323-8697; call for Israel mobile #s.
Fredrik S. Heffermehl
Andromeda Hill Hotel, Jaffa April 20, 2004
3. Mordechai Vanunu a selection of applicable treaty provisions and case law
On restrictions on Freedom of Movement and Self-Expression are illegal
(particulars on the package of restrictions can be found at www.vanunu.org
and, with Vanunu-relevant comments on www.peaceispossible.info/Vanunu.html)
The rights of freedom of movement and freedom of expression are enshrined in most human rights treaties, including the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR) and the American Convention on Human Rights (ACHR).
ICCPR - Freedom of Movement and Freedom to Enjoy Residence
Under paragraph 1, article 12 of the ICCPR [e]veryone lawfully within the territory of a State shall, within that territory, have the right to liberty of movement and freedom to choose his residence. General Comment No. 27, paras. 5 and 7 clarifies that the enjoyment of this right must not be made dependent on any particular purpose or reason for the person wanting to move or stay in a place and that this right includes protection against all forms of forced internal displacement and precludes preventing the entry or stay of persons in a defined part of the territory.
Freedom to Leave Any Country, Including Ones Own
Paragraph 2, Article 12 of ICCPR provides that [e]veryone shall be free to leave any country, including his own. General Comment No. 27 further expands on this right, noting that for an individual to be able to enjoy the rights guaranteed by article 12, additional obligations are imposed on a state. As international travel usually requires appropriate documents, in particular a passport, the right to leave a country must include the right to obtain the necessary travel documents. The issuing of passports is normally incumbent on the State of nationality of the individual. The refusal by a State to issue a passport . . . may deprive this person of their right to leave the country of residence and travel elsewhere.
Under paragraph 2, article 19 of the ICCHR, [e]veryone shall have the right to freedom of expression; this right shall include freedom to seek, receive and impart information and ideas of all kinds, regardless of frontiers, either orally, in writing or in print, in the form of art, or through any other media of his choice.
The national security exception
Any exception from these rules has to be prescribed by law, necessary to protect certain purposes.
An individuals right to move freely within the State or to leave the State is only acceptable if those restrictions satisfy the requirements of paragraph 3, article 12 of the ICCPR. Paragraph 3, article 12 of the ICCPR provides that both rights shall not be subject to any restrictions except those which are provided by law, are necessary to protect national security, public order (ordre public), public health or morals or the rights and freedoms of others, and are consistent with the other rights recognised in the present Covenant.
Provided by Law
General Comment No. 27, para. 13 notes that the law must establish the conditions under which the rights may be limited and that laws authorising the application of restrictions should use precise criteria and may not confer unfettered discretion on those charged with their execution.
Necessary to Protect Permissible Purposes
General Comment No. 27, para. 14 provides that it is not sufficient that the restrictions serve the permissible purposes; they must also be necessary to protect them. Restrictive measures must conform to the principle of proportionality; they must be appropriate to achieve their protective function; they must be the least intrusive instrument amongst those which might achieve their desired result; and they must be proportional to the interest to be protected. Some examples of inappropriate restrictions: if an individual were prevented from leaving a country merely on the ground that he or she is the holder of State secrets, or if an individual were prevented from travelling internally without a specific permit. Id at para. 16. Some examples of appropriate restrictions: restrictions on
The Committee has also held that a State party may not invoke national security when the information that the individual has distributed, is a matter of public knowledge already. In Kang, as noted above, the Supreme Court of Korea had defined a state secret as something that, even though the information is self-evident and natural common-sense knowledge in the Republic of Korea
might provide benefit to an anti-State organisation and might cause damage to us. Kang v. Republic of Korea, Communication No. 878/1999, CCPR/C/78/D/878/1999, para. 2.4 n.3.
Restrictions on freedom of expression
must satisfy a three-part test that is very similar to the one articulated in the ICCPR. The restriction must be: (a) prescribed by law; (b) serve one of the enumerated purposes; and (c) be necessary in a democratic society.
In order to be deemed necessary, the reasons adduced by the [domestic tribunal] must be relevant and sufficient and the restriction must be proportionate to the legitimate aim pursued. The Observer and Guardian v. United Kingdom, case no. 51/1990/242/313, 24 October 1991, para. 59.
Further, whether the interest is justified by sufficient reasons may depend on the nature of the expression sought to be restricted. If the expression sought to be restricted involves information that is a matter of undisputed public concern, the information may be restricted only where it is absolutely certain that its dissemination would have the adverse consequences articulated by the State party as the reason for the restriction. The Sunday Times v. United Kingdom, paras. 65-66; see also The Observer and Guardian v. United Kingdom, para. 59(b) (noting the duty of the press, upon whom it is incumbent to impart information and ideas on matters of public interest).
Similarly, the analysis may be altered by the type of sanctions sought to be imposed. Prior restraints, while not expressly forbidden by Article, do require more scrutiny from the Court in fact, they are subject to the most careful scrutiny. The Observer and Guardian v. United Kingdom, Case no. 51/1990/242/313, para. 60.
In The Observer and Guardian v. United Kingdom, Case no. 51/1990/242/313, the two named applicants, both newspapers, sought relief from interlocutory injunctions imposed by the English courts on the publication of details from a book called Spycatcher, and information obtained from its author, Peter Wright, concerning the operations of the British Security Service. The Court divided the period in question into two periods: one before publication of the information abroad and one after publication abroad. It assessed relevancy, sufficiency and proportionality in turn for each period.
For the first period, it upheld the restrictions. It concluded that the reasons adduced by the English courts for imposing the preliminary injunction were relevant: the reason to obtain a preliminary injunction was that the Attorney General was seeking a permanent ban on publication - if publication went forward, it would destroy the substance of the action and any claim to protect national security. When assessing sufficiency of the reasons, it deferred to the English courts, allowing them a margin of appreciation to conclude that the grant of injunctive relief was necessary, especially in light of what the Court saw as their careful weighing of the public interest in preventing disclosure and the public interest in disclosing the information. Finally, the Court concluded that the temporary injunction was proportionate as it was not a blanket prohibition publication was forbidden, but seeking a public inquiry into the allegations contained in the book was not. The Court noted that the injunctions were supposed to be temporary but were actually in force for more than a year, but then countered itself with the fact that the trial had actually gone forward. The Courts conclusion is one of deference to the domestic tribunal the national authorities were entitled to judge the restrictions necessary.
For the second period, however, the Court reached a different conclusion. Once the information had been disseminated through the country by means of copies published abroad, then the campaign to preserve the secret character of information that ought to be kept secret was lost. The reason for the restriction was no longer preserving national secrets, but the promotion of the efficiency and reputation of the Security Service, notably by preserving confidence in that Service on the part of third parties, making it clear that the unauthorised publication of memoirs by its former members would not be countenanced, and deterring others who might be tempted to follow in Mr. Wrights footsteps. The Court concluded that these were not sufficient reasons to restrict the newspapers from publication.
When information is no longer secret, the reasons for the State to impose such restrictions would tend to be rejected by the Court, is an analysis which is supported out by another case decided by the Court: In this case, the Court concluded that, if the information is no longer secret, limits on its distribution are not justified. Vereniging Weekblad Bluf! v. The Netherlands, Case no. 44/1993/439/518, para. X (Exhibit 25).
Jaffa, April 20, 2004
Fredrik S. Heffermehl
Vice President, International Association of Lawyers Against Nuclear Arms
Niels Juels gt. 28 A, N-0272 Oslo, Norway
Download text file