THE Sunday Times is to challenge the decision of an Israeli minister to ban Peter Hounam, \'the journalist who for 18 years has written its reports on the case of the nuclear whistleblower Mordechai Vanunu, from returning to\' the country. An order declaring Hounam persona non grata in Israel was issued last Sunday by A vraham Poraz, the interior minister, on the grounds that he might uncover secrets that would threaten Israel\'s security. Hounam, 60, had hoped to attend a court hearing in Jernsalem ,next month at which Vanunu, 49, will seek an end to government restrictions that prevent him from travelling abroad or speaking to foreigners following his release I from jail in April. He served I \' nearly 18 years in prison. 11 of them in solitary confinenmtent - for giving The Sunday Times details of Israel\'s nuclear weapons programme. A petition on behalf of Hounam and the newspaper seeking to overturn the order against him will be heard on Thursday in the Jerusalem district court. \"I am not a security risk, and I am not out to reveal more state secrets,\" said\' Hounam. He was a member of the Sunday Times Insight team that broke Vanunu\'s story in 1986. Last month, after he had arranged for Vanunu to be interviewed by an Israeli journalist, Hounam was arrested and interrogated by Shin Bet, Israel\'s internal security service. He was released after British diplomats intervened. More than 1,000 readers called last week for the restrictions against Vanunu to be lifted by three judges who will hear his case on July 11. Readers who wish to support Vanunu\'s petitition can fill in the petition or send an, e-mail (firstname.lastname@example.org). We will forward your details to the newspaper-The newspaper will forward messages and completed coupons to the court.