JERUSALEM -- An Israeli charged with exposing Israel's atomic bomb secrets said in a letter published today that he is being treated as 'state enemy No. 1' and will risk even death to get justice in his case.
Mordechai Vanunu, 32, addressed his complaints to his brother Meir, who is living in the United States, in a letter dated Jan. 1.
'My prison conditions have been very difficult up until now,' wrote Vanunu, who is in the 25th day of a hunger strike.
'Complete isolation,' he wrote from an undisclosed prison in Israel. 'One hour walking outside the cell in a small room. They prevent me from writing my thoughts and ideas to myself.'
In the letter published in the Ha'aretz newspaper, Vanunu mentioned his plan to go on a hunger strike to protest his imprisonment.
'They treat me like state enemy No. 1,' he wrote. 'I take upon myself the risk of harming my health, my body and even to die so that justice will be done.'
Most of the letter is a plea to Meir Vanunu to return to Israel to help his brother prepare for his trial on espionage and treason charges. It was published a day after Vanunu refused prison officials' conditions for meeting with his American girlfriend, Judy Zimmet.
Zimmet said she has not seen Vanunu since he vanished in London Sept. 30. His whereabouts were a mystery until Nov. 9, when the Israeli government announced he was in custody in Israel.
Vanunu, a former technician at the Dimona nuclear research plant in Israel's southern Negev Desert, disappeared five days before a British newspaper published an article saying Israel has secretly built between 100 and 200 atomic warheads at Dimona.
The Sunday Times of London said its primary source for the article was Vanunu, a Moroccan-born Jew who was laid off his job at the plant in a reported cost-cutting move in November 1985.
Israel has a long-standing policy of refusing to comment on its nuclear weapons capability, which the Sunday Times story said has given Israel the world's sixth largest nuclear arsenal.
The Israeli government repeatedly has denied reports that agents of its Mossad foreign intelligence service kidnapped Vanunu in Europe and returned him to Israel to stand trial.
Vanunu, arriving for a court hearing Dec. 21 in Jerusalem, scribbled a message on his left palm and flashed it to reporters to indicate that he was abducted just after landing at Rome's Fiumicino airport on a British Airways flight on Sept. 30.
On Nov. 28, Vanunu was indicted on treason and espionage charges. Government prosecutors have decided against seeking the death sentence, so Vanunu faces up to 55 years in prison if convicted.