Israel arrests British journalist

May 27, 2004 at 8:30 AM

TEL AVIV, Israel, May 27 (UPI) -- An Israeli court has allowed Peter Hounam, a British journalist held in connection with the man who exposed Israel's nuclear program, to talk to a lawyer.

The Jerusalem District Court Thursday gave the Shabak security service a 6 p.m., local time, deadline to let Hounam talk to his attorney, Avigdor Feldman.

The Shabak arrested Hounam Wednesday evening, banned him from seeing a lawyer and won a court gag order.

Earlier, The Defense Ministry's Director General Amos Yaron said the affair is "of course" connected with Israel's nuclear whistleblower Mordechai Vanunu.

Hounam was the Sunday Times journalist who published an account of Israel's top-secret nuclear program in 1986. The story was based on interviews with Vanunu, a former technician at the Dimona reactor.

Vanunu was released April 21 after serving 17 1/2 years in prison.

Israel denied Hounam's request to meet Vanunu and warned Vanunu not to talk about his work in Dimona.

Hounam has been in Israel for more than a month working on a documentary for the British Broadcasting Corp.

Asked if Vanunu was using Hounam, Yaron said, "I think it was the other way around."

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