Vanunu, Mordechai

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Vanunu was born in Morocco to a religious Jewish family who emigrated to Israel in 1963. After service in the Israeli Defence Force he started working at a nuclear research station.

In September 1986, after publicly revealing that Israel had a secret nuclear arsenal, he was kidnapped by Mossad and in 1988 was sentenced to 18 years in prison for espionage and revealing state secrets. He was finally released in April 2004, after spending nearly 12 years in solitary confinement, and still subject to many restrictions on his movements and contacts.

During his imprisonment he was awarded several international awards for peace.

In 1986 he converted to Christianity while in Australia, and in October 1997 he was formally adopted by a couple from Minnesota, Mary and Nicholas Eoloff, who are long-time peace activists. They adopted him hoping that it would make him eligible for US citizenship and that he would be able to emigrate to the US after his release from prison, but US law and the Israeli authorities will not allow this.

His birth parents have disowned him because of his conversion.


Campaign to Free Vanunu and for a Nuclear Free Middle East. "Free Vanunu." [Includes portraits].
Harris, Aaron Keith. Minnesotans Meet Adopted Son in Israeli Prison." Associated Press wire story, 15 April 2004. Available at:
Myre, Greg. "Israeli Scientist Asserts He's Proud of His Acts." International Herald Tribune Online, 22 April 2004. Available at:


20th Century
21st Century
Civil Rights, Advocacy
Military and Defense
Exile or Persecution (religious, Political or Social)
Criminal Convictions, Imprisonment
Formal, American/European-Type Adoption
Adopted as an Adult
War or Persecution
For Companionship, or for Charitable Motives
Others ("Strangers")
Adoptive/Foster Family Included Birth Child(ren)
Trans-Racial, Trans-Tribal, International or Trans-Cultural Adoption or Fostering
Birth Sibling(s) Remained With or Returned to Birth Family
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