Hundreds of supporters from around the world, many of them wearing symbolic gags, were outside the prison gates in the Israeli town of Ashkelon to greet Vanunu, calling him a “peace hero”.
British actor Susannah York, a longtime supporter who was in the welcoming crowd, described Vanunu’s prison term as “a gross violation of human rights”.
But there were equal numbers of demonstrators who labelled him a traitor. Vanunu, who drove taxis in Australia in 1985 and 1986, spent 12 years of his sentence in solitary confinement.
Waving V-for-victory gestures as he walked through the gates of Ashkelon’s Shikma prison, 49-year-old Vanunu stood defiantly before a bank of television cameras and proclaimed: “I am proud and happy to do what I did.”