Nearly 30 years after he was convicted for revealing classified information about Israel’s nuclear program, Mordechai Vanunu has given his first interview to the Israeli media.
Vanunu was sentenced to 18 years in prison in 1986, after being convicted of treason and espionage for revealing details of Israel’s nuclear plant in Dimona, where he had worked as a nuclear technician.
Since his release in 2004 – upon which he expressed to remorse for his actions – Vanunu has been subjected to a number of restrictions aimed at preventing him from leaking further classified information. Among other things he is forbidden from speaking to foreigners, from leaving the country or even approaching its borders.
He has been arrested several times for breaching those conditions, and even spent short stints in prison as a result.
He is also forbidden from speaking to journalists, but was granted permission to speak to Israel’s Channel 2 in an interview that will be aired in full later this week.
Among other things, Vanunu recounted the Mossad honey trap which ultimately led to his capture in Rome in 1986, following his leaking of information to the British press.
He was living in the UK at the time, but the Israeli intelligence agency – wary of damaging relations with the British government – decided not to launch an operation on British soil. Instead, Vanunu was lured to Italy by a Mossad agent posing as a female American tourist named “Cindy.”
In his interview with Channel 2, Vanunu told how he disregarded his initial suspicions after meeting “Cindy.”
“It was on the street. I crossed the round and a woman crossed the road and we talked,” he said, remembering their first meeting. “She was a tourist, I was a tourist. I didn’t love her, (but) I said the connection could progress a little.”
“For the first moment I said to her that she was a Mossad agent, but after that I forgot about it.”
Vanunu said it was he who initiated the relationship with Cindy.
“That’s the method to bring a man down, that he initiates. If she initiates you’ll suspect her,” he said, appraising his captors’ methods. “So I initiated and I talked to her. She was a foreigner woman in London and I was a foreign man in London and we began a connection and met another time and another.”
He also claimed Cindy wasn’t the only Mossad agent who had attempted to capture him.
Vanunu said he had no idea he was being tricked until the last moment.
“The moment the Mossad men attacked me in the apartment in Rome, in Italy, there I understood, and even there I still thought that she was also a victim. After three days on the ship that brought me to Israel I reached the conclusion that she was part of the plan.”