Mordechai Vanunu, the man who revealed Israel’s nuclear secrets to the world in 1986, has demanded that Israel rescind his citizenship and allow him to leave the country.
In a weekend letter to Israeli interior minister Eli Yishai, the nuclear whistleblower cited a new law passed in March under which Israelis convicted of treason automatically lose their right to citizenship.
“I request that you set me free of Israel, since Israel does not want me nor do I want Israel,” he wrote. “I have no interest in Israeli citizenship, I don’t want to go on living here.”
Mr Vanunu, a low-level technician at Israel’s Dimona nuclear plant, first hit the headlines in 1986 when he leaked details with photographs he took surreptitiously to the British Sunday Times .
The revelations marked the first concrete proof that Israel had the capacity to manufacture nuclear bombs. Israel maintains a policy of “nuclear ambiguity”, neither confirming nor denying foreign reports of its nuclear potential.
Partly based on the secrets he revealed, foreign experts concluded that Israel was the world’s sixth-largest nuclear power.
Mr Vanunu, a convert to Christianity, said that although no state had offered him asylum, if released he would take the first flight out of Israel to any country willing to have him. He said he had no more nuclear secrets to reveal that could potentially damage Israeli security.
In 2004 he completed an 18-year sentence, most of which was spent in solitary confinement. Strict conditions were attached to his release, including a ban on leaving the country, a ban on entering the Palestinian territories and a ban on meeting foreign journalists.
Since his release, Mr Vanunu has twice served jail terms after convictions for parole violations.