updated 9/8/2004 11:22:43 AM ET 2004-09-08T15:22:43

Nuclear whistleblower Mordechai Vanunu said Wednesday he wants to replace his Israeli citizenship with a foreign one, perhaps Palestinian, and is considering marrying an American pen pal.

Vanunu, a former technician at Israel’s nuclear reactor, was released from prison in April after serving 18 years for spilling Israel’s nuclear secrets.

Since his release, Vanunu, a convert to Christianity, has been staying at an Anglican church compound in Jerusalem.

Anglican Bishop Riah Abu Al-Assal said that a few days ago, Vanunu, 49, and a friend, Kathy St.-Onge of Wisconsin, asked for his blessing.

“They want to get married. ... I encouraged them,” Al-Assal said. “I think if the gentleman wants to live a normal life and have children, he can’t wait until he is 80.”

However, Vanunu later said that while he is considering marriage in the coming months, he has not made up his mind. He said he met St.-Onge via e-mail, and that she visited him twice, for periods of several days, in the past two months.

In an interview with the Israeli newspaper Yediot Ahronot published Wednesday, St.-Onge refused to confirm the two were to be married. Vanunu was quoted as saying: “I am considering it.”

Convicted of treason
Vanunu was convicted of treason in 1988 for divulging information and pictures of Israel’s top secret nuclear reactor. The details, published in London’s Sunday Times, led experts to conclude that Israel has the sixth-largest stockpile of nuclear weapons, including hundreds of warheads.

Al-Assal said he will conduct the wedding ceremony, but that the couple have not set a date or decided where they will live. At the moment, they are “living in different rooms in the (church) guest house,” he said.

Vanunu, who is barred from leaving the country, has said he would like to move to the United States. Vanunu said Wednesday he wants to revoke his Israeli citizenship, but that in order to do so, he must first find a country that will offer him a passport.

“Any state that will offer me citizenship, I will take it,” he said, adding that becoming a Palestinian was one of the possibilities.

Raanan Gissin, an adviser to Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, declined comment.

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