High Treason and Espionage

In this project I am recreating the images taken by Mordechai Vaanunu in the Israeli Nuclear Research Center in Dimona. In 1986 Vaanunu, a former employee of the Research Center, revealed to the British Sunday Times information about the Israeli nuclear program, including photographs he had secretly taken at the nuclear plant. Soon after the disclosure of this information, the Israeli Mosad kidnapped Vaanunu in a ‘honey trap’ operation, using a female agent to seduce him. Vaanunu was then drugged and brought back to Israel to stand on trial for treason and espionage. He was found guilty, and was sentenced to 18 years of imprisonment.

Although the images taken by Vaanunu can easily be found online, they largely remain unseen. The public discussion of the Vaanunu affair has focused mainly on the implications of his actions, dealing on the one hand with national security and and on the other hand with the ethics of producing nuclear weapon. The discussion also revolved around the heroic, ‘James Bond like’, abduction operation. By recreating the images, this project offers an alternative discussion; one revolving the boundaries of knowledge available to the public, censorship, and the abilities of the photographic medium to push these boundaries.