Calling Vanunu a “preeminent prophet of the nuclear era,” Ellsberg stressed that Israel must recognize, for its own good, what Vanunu did was right and come clean about the existence of its nuclear weapons program. The Israeli government should also stop lying to its own people and the world and admit that they were the first to introduce nuclear weapons to the Middle East, he added.
Ellsberg, who exposed the Pentagon Papers on the Vietnam War to the American media in 1971 and was prosecuted and branded a “traitor” by some for his move, also talked about Vanunu’s ordeal from the perspective of a whistleblower.
— RT (@RT_com) September 10, 2015
RT:Ten years since his release, Vanunu is still under constant government pressure, is in constant fear of arrest. Why is that happening, do you think?
Daniel Ellsberg: I think it’s essentially what they want to be a life-time punishment, in effect, for embarrassing them, actually, in a policy that really can’t be defended in the nuclear era. Is it really legitimate for a country to develop nuclear weapons in secret and continue to maintain the secrecy, then, indefinitely from the world, or pretend to keep that secret? I think not. I think Vanunu did exactly the right thing by telling his fellow citizens, and the rest of the world, that Israel had a large nuclear program. And for that, he served 18 years in prison: 10 and a half in a very small cell of isolation – a 6 by 9 foot cell – what Amnesty called “torture,” essentially, for that long period.
The idea that he’s restricted after serving the full sentence – nothing off for good behavior or any pardon of any sort – after serving the full sentence of 18 the idea that he should be subject to further restrictions about who he can talk to, and whether he can leave the country, is actually a relic of the British colonial policies, when they ruled Israel entirely and they were just incorporated into Israeli law that’s not regarded under human rights legislation anywhere else in the world, actually, as a fair thing to do.