After Manning, NSA leaker Snowden nominated for Nobel Peace Prize

30 Jan 2014


The US security establishment and President Obama may want to see Edward Snowden clapped in irons and packed off to the US for a criminal trial, but two Norwegian lawmakers have a different idea – they have nominated Snowden, who blew the whistle on the National Security Agency's massive global surveillance programme, for the Nobel Peace Prize – the same honour that Obama won in 2009.

Norwegian parliamentarians Snorre Valen and Baard Vegar Solhjell nominated Snowden for the award for his disclosures. A White House official was dismissive, saying Snowden instead should be tried as a felon.

Snowden ''should be returned to the US as soon as possible, where he will be accorded full due process,'' White House National Security Council spokeswoman Caitlin Hayden said.

Snowden's leaks ''often shed more heat than light, while revealing methods to our adversaries that could impact our operations in ways that we may not fully understand for years to come'', she said.

In their nomination, both Solhjell and Valen say that Snowden damaged international security interests, but that this was just for the short term.

''Modern information technology brings new opportunities for democratisation, openness and freedom of speech,'' Valen wrote on Manifest Tidskrift. ''But is also introduces new tools for oppression, surveillance and espionage.

''Of course I don't support all of Snowden's revelations, but I have no doubt that the public debate and the political changes that have followed in the wake of the Snowden issue has contributed to a more peaceful and better world.''

Solhjell was environment minister in the former Labor-led government.

Obama was spurred to make changes in US surveillance programmes in response to the domestic and international backlash that resulted from disclosures made by Snowden, who has temporary asylum in Russia after being charged under espionage laws in the US.

The Nobel committee doesn't release the names of nominees for 50 years, though those who make the nominations are free to do so. Thousands of people are in a position to submit nominations to the five-member committee, including any member of a national legislative assembly, government and court officials, academics, board members of organizations that have received the prize, as well as past winners.

Valen in 2011 nominated Wikileaks, an anti-secrecy group that previously released secret US government documents and which has been assisting Snowden. Bradley Manning, a US soldier who is serving a 35-year sentence for providing documents to Wikileaks, was nominated last year.

Valen said he had no worry that the nomination, or even the award of the prize, would draw a negative response from the US. ''The US is one of the world's most democratic and free societies,'' Valen said in an e-mail today. ''I feel confident that a peace prize to Snowden will not affect US-Norwegian relations. I have more trust in Barack Obama's democratic thinking than that of China's.''

The criteria for those who may offer nominations has resulted in a broad collection of major and minor historical figures being offered for consideration.

Past nominees have included dictators Benito Mussolini of Italy in 1935 and Adolf Hitler of Nazi Germany in 1939. Soviet leader Joseph Stalin was nominated twice, in 1945 and 1948, according to the Nobel organization. None received the prize.

The Nobel committee received 256 candidates for the Peace Prize in 2013, according the organization's website. It is awarded annually on 10 December in Oslo.

Snowden, 30, fled to Hong Kong and then to Russia after leaking classified documents on the NSA's spying programmes. US Attorney General Eric Holder said last week that if Snowden wanted to return to the US and plead guilty, prosecutors would be willing to negotiate.

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