IFJ Condemns Israeli ‘Paranoia Over Vanunu’ and Demands Release of Detained UK Reporter

Delegates at the International Federation of Journalists Congress meeting in Athens today backed a strong IFJ condemnation over the detention by Israeli security police of a British journalist who broke the story of Israel’s nuclear weapons capacity in an interview with Mordechai Vanunu 20 years ago.

“This action smacks of continuing paranoia over an old story and a man who has served many years in jail for revealing a secret that the world has a right to know,” said Aidan White IFJ General Secretary commenting on the detention of Peter Hounam, now working on a project for the BBC, who broke the Vanunu story in the Sunday Times.

Vanunu was later kidnapped by Israeli police in Rome, taken back to Tel Aviv, tried and sentenced. He served 18 years in prison, 12 of them in solitary confinement and was released in April this year.

White said that the detention of Hounam, a close associate of Vanunu, was shocking evidence of “continuing and profound hostility” within the Israeli security and political establishment against the exercise of any form of journalism that subjects the state to the scrutiny expected in a democratic state.

“Israel is continuing to victimise those who dare to put the spotlight on a story the whole world now knows about,” said White. “It appears to be a vindictive act of petulance, unworthy of any state that claims to be democratic. Hounam should be set free immediately and allowed to continue his work without further interference.”

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The IFJ represents over 500,000 journalists in more than 100 countries