John Crossman

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John Crossman, 2009.

John Crossman (born 14 October 1952), is better known by his birth name Mordechai Vanunu and is often referred to in the mainstream media by this name. This despite him apparently having not used the name Mordechai Vanunu since the 1980s.[1]

Mr Crossman is an Israeli former nuclear technician and peace activist who, citing his opposition to weapons of mass destruction, revealed details of Israel's nuclear weapons program to the British press in 1986. He was subsequently lured to Italy by the Israeli intelligence agency Mossad, where he was drugged and abducted. He was secretly transported to Israel and ultimately convicted in a trial that was held behind closed doors.[2]

John Crossman spent 18 years in prison, including more than 11 in solitary confinement, though no such restriction is mentioned in Israel's penal code, nor imposed by his verdict.

Mr Crossman served his sentence at Shikma Prison in Ashkelon, where he was held in administratively imposed solitary confinement. On 3 May 1989, he appealed his conviction and sentence to the Israeli Supreme Court and was brought from prison in a closed police vehicle to the Supreme Court for an appeal hearing. In 1990, his appeal was rejected. The following year, an appeal to the Supreme Court arguing for better prison conditions was also rejected. On 12 March 1998, after having spent over eleven years in solitary confinement, Vanunu was released into the general prison population. While in prison, Vanunu took part in small acts of defiance, such as refusing psychiatric treatment, refusing to initiate conversations with the guards, reading only English-language newspapers rather than Hebrew ones, refusing to work, refusing to eat lunch when it was served, and watching only BBC television. "He is the most stubborn, principled and tough person I have ever met", said his lawyer, Avigdor Feldman. In 1998, Vanunu appealed to the Supreme Court for his Israeli citizenship to be revoked. The Interior Minister denied Vanunu's request on grounds that he did not have another citizenship. He was denied parole because he refused to promise that he would never speak of the Dimona facility or his kidnapping and imprisonment.

Released from prison in 2004, he was further subjected to a broad array of restrictions on his speech and his movement, and arrested several times for violations of his parole terms, giving interviews to foreign journalists and attempting to leave Israel. He claims having suffered cruel and barbaric treatment at the hands of prison authorities, and suggests that these would have been different if he had not converted to Christianity.[3]

In 2007, Mr Crossman was sentenced to six months in prison for violating terms of his parole. The sentence was considered unusually severe even by the prosecution, who expected a suspended sentence. However, in May 2010, John Crossman was arrested again and sentenced to three months in jail on a charge that he had met foreigners, in violation of conditions of his 2004 release from jail. In response, Amnesty International issued a press release in July 2007, stating that "The organisation considers Mordechai Vanunu to be a prisoner of conscience and calls for his immediate and unconditional release."[4]

Mr Crossman has been characterized internationally as a whistleblower and by Israel as a traitor. Daniel Ellsberg has referred to him as "the preeminent hero of the nuclear era". In 1987, he was awarded the Right Livelihood Award for "his courage and self-sacrifice in revealing the extent of Israel's nuclear weapons program".[5]

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