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Germany

Israel prevents whistleblower from accepting human rights award

Mordechai Vanunu was to have been awarded the Karl von Ossietzky Prize for his work promoting disarmament, but Israel refused to allow him to travel to Berlin to accept it. Now organizers have cancelled the ceremony.

Mordechai Vanunu

Vanunu is a former nuclear technician

The International League for Human Rights has cancelled this year's award of the Carl von Ossietzky Medal, because the Israeli winner was not allowed to travel to Berlin to receive the award in person. The ceremony, planned for Sunday, will now be turned into a protest event.

Mordechai Vanunu was to have been awarded the prize for his work in promoting disarmament, but did not receive permission to leave Israel. He declined to have a representative collect the prize for him, a League spokesperson said.

In 1986, Vanunu disclosed the inner workings of Israel's Dimona nuclear plant to Britain's Sunday Times newspaper, for which he served an 18-year sentence for treason and espionage. After his release in 2004, he was forbidden to contact foreign embassies or journalists. In May this year, he was sentenced to three months in jail for giving an interview.

A strange coincidence

Carl von Ossietzky

Ossietzky died in a Nazi concentration camp in 1938


Vanunu's situation is oddly reminiscent of the man after whom the prize is named, the German pacifist Carl von Ossietzky, who was prevented by the Nazi regime from accepting the 1936 retrospective Nobel Peace Prize for 1935.

The Carl von Ossietzky prize has been awarded by the International League for Human Rights since 1962 to honor citizens or initiatives that promote basic human rights.

Author: Sarah Harman (KNA,epd)
Editor: Susan Houlton

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