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Vanunu: I'm a Traitor, Take my Citizenship

Convicted traitor and nuclear spy Mordechai Vanunu is demanding that Israel revoke his citizenship. Hopes to leave to “anywhere but here.”
By Maayana Miskin
First Publish: 5/8/2011, 7:47 PM / Last Update: 5/8/2011, 9:05 PM

Flash 90

Convicted nuclear spy Mordechai Vanunu has demanded that Minister of Interior Eli Yishai strip him of his Israeli citizenship under a new law to strip citizenship from convicted traitors. Vanunu was convicted of treason and spying for disclosing secrets from Israel's nuclear reactor in Dimona.

He served 18 years in prison and was released, but has since been detained for violating legal orders against contact with foreign citizens.

“I am asking the state of Israel to revoke my citizenship,” he wrote to Yishai. “This wish for revocation of citizenship is neither new nor recent. Now, however, it is supported by the new Revocation of Citizenship  Law.”

Taking away Vanunu's citizenship would create an impossible legal situation, since the terms of his parole include prohibitions on leaving Israel or approaching foreign embassies. Without citizenship, Vanunu would not have legal status in Israel, but also would not be allowed to leave.

Vanunu was born in Be'er Sheva, and worked at the Negev Nuclear Research Center until 1985. In 1986 he converted to Anglican Christianity and renamed himself John Crossman; the following year, he leaked Israeli nuclear secrets to a British journalist.

He has disassociated himself from Israel and Judaism, and has even gone so far as to refuse to speak Hebrew. In demanding to lose his Israeli citizenship, Vanunu said he would go to any country willing to offer him citizenship.

“I have no other citizenship, but I can easily get one,” he wrote to Yishai. “I have no interest in Israeli citizenship... Israel does not want me nor do I want Israel.” He referred to his stay in Israel since 1986 as “twenty-five years of imprisonment.”