Oslo ready to host Mordechai Vanunu, the whistle-blower who revealed Israel’s nuclear programme

His wife has applied for family reunification. Vanunu worked at the Dimona nuclear power plant. In 1988 he was sentenced to 18 years of prison for high treason, and spent more than 10 in isolation. Since his release in 2004, he has been under a travel and media ban. For Israel, he still represents a threat to national security.

Oslo (AsiaNews/Agencies) – Norway is ready to host Mordechai Vanunu, a  former Israeli nuclear technician sentenced in 18 years of prison in 1988 for high treason and espionage after he disclosed details about Israel’s nuclear programme, said his Norwegian wife Kristin Joachimsen on a Norwegian TV station two days ago.

"We made a request for family reunification as that's exactly the case here, for spouses and a family to be able to live together," Kristin Joachimsen told TV2 late Saturday. "So even if I know the affair is controversial in some circles, it's the family values that won over," she added.

Karl Erik Sjoholt, an official with Norway's immigration agency, confirmed the request had been approved.

Vanunu was arrested in 1986 for divulging information concerning the Dimona nuclear research facility to the Sunday Times newspaper. He was convicted in 1988, and spent more than ten years in isolation.

After he was released in 2004, Vanunu’s freedom of movement and expression have been restricted. He cannot travel, have contacts with foreigners, or speak to the media.

Since then, he has been arrested twice for breaking the bans, the last time in 2015, when he gave an interview to Channel 2.

His Norwegian lawyer, Arild Humlen, said he hopes that the immigration agency's decision will increase the likelihood of Vanunu leaving Israel.

On Sunday, a spokesman for Israel's foreign ministry could not say if Vanunu had made a new request to travel to Norway.

But he said restrictions on the whistle-blower’s freedom of movement were "due to the danger that he posed" to the state.

Vanunu converted to Christianity and took the name John Crossman just before his capture by the Mossad in Rome in 1986. He married Joachimsen, who teaches at the School of Theology in Oslo, in May 2014.

Israel’s nuclear programme is under tight wraps. For years, the Israeli Disarmament Movement has denounced the "taboo" surrounding it, highlighting the risks that nuclear power represents for public health. Only recently has civil society begun to discuss the issue more openly.

Israel is the only country in the Middle East that refuses to confirm or deny its possession of nuclear weapons. Together with Pakistan, India and North Korea, it is also the only nuclear power that has not ratified the Non-Proliferation Treaty.