Sometime in mid-to-late September, Mordechai Vanunu walks into the offices of Rupert Murdoch’s The Sunday Times and Robert Maxwell’s Sunday Mirror carrying photographs that prove the existence of a secret Israeli nuclear weapons plant. He has recently been baptized and feels a moral duty to protect the world from Israel’s hidden arsenal.
There’s just one problem: Robert Maxwell has his own secrets, and one of them is his loyalty to Israel.
Maxwell sends the pictures to Israeli agents at the country’s London embassy and runs a story titled “The Strange Case of Israel and the Nuclear Con Man” on September 28. Two days later, Vanunu flies to Rome with a woman who ends up being an agent of Mossad. He’s kidnapped upon his arrival.
Unable to speak to journalists, he carefully wrote out details of his movements on the palm of his hand and pressed it to the window of his prison truck as it took him to court. “Rome ITL 30:9:86 2100 came to Rome by BA504,” he had written.Independent
The Sunday Times prints Vanunu’s full story while he is in Israel facing criminal charges for treason in a closed-door trial. He is ultimately convicted and sentenced to prison for 18 years.
Vanunu spends the first 12 years in solitary. When his solitary is lifted, a red line is painted on one of the prison’s floors. He is not allowed to cross the line until his release on April 21, 2004.
Note: Some versions of these events suggest that The Sunday Times was working exclusively with Mordechai Vanunu and that Murdoch’s team, not Robert Maxwell, brought the evidence to the Israeli embassy. Ari Ben-Menashe, a former Mossad agent, claims Maxwell tipped off Israel. He also claims that he was Maxwell’s Mossad handler. Trump File cannot confirm which version of this story is true.