US secrets leaker Manning nominated for Nobel Peace Prize

Bradley Manning, the US army private who was the chief source of classified documents made public by Julius Assange's WikiLeaks, has been nominated for this year's Nobel Peace Prize on the back of some 100,000 signatures, Nobel committee officials said on Tuesday.

Manning is currently under court martial, and faces up to 90 years in prison for disclosing classified information through WikiLeaks. His lawyers argued on Tuesday that it was the army's fault that it failed to recognise that Manning was mentally unhealthy (See: WikiLeaks source Manning was mentally sick, argues defence).

North Ireland's 1976 Nobel Peace laureate Mairead Maguire nominated Manning for the prize in June, saying his leaks had helped end the war in Iraq by hastening foreign troop withdrawals and dissuading further American intervention in the Middle East.

US anti-war activist Norman Solomon, the head of civil action group RootsAction, which was the driving force behind the move, gave the petition on Monday to Nobel committee member Asle Toje, who said the annually-awarded $1-million Nobel Prizes are ''not a popularity contest'' and the petition would neither weaken nor strengthen Manning's nomination.

Solomon said giving the prize to Manning would help repair the Nobel panel's reputation after it chose President Barack Obama for the Peace Prize in 2009, only a few months into his first term of office.

The last jailed Nobel Peace Prize winner was Chinese dissident Liu Xiaobo in 2010.

"There's a cloud hanging over the Nobel Peace Committee," Solomon said Monday, as he prepared to hand his 5,000-page petition to the committee.

"In a sense, the Nobel Peace Prize at this point needs Bradley Manning more than Bradley Manning needs the Nobel Peace Prize ... there has now grown a question about the Nobel Committee's commitment to human rights and peace in an even-handed, independent way."

Private First Class Manning was convicted earlier this month of charges that included espionage and theft for releasing more than 700,000 battlefield videos, diplomatic cables and other secret documents to the anti-secrecy website WikiLeaks. He now faces up to 90 years in prison.

Solomon argued that the disclosures shortened the US military involvement in Iraq and made it more difficult for the country to engage in conflict.

Manning, 25, was a low-level intelligence analyst in Iraq in 2010 when he was charged with leaking files including videos of a 2007 attack by a US Apache helicopter gunship in Baghdad that killed a dozen people, two of them Reuters news staff.

The Nobel committee, which also came under fire for awarding the Peace Prize to the European Union last year, has repeatedly rejected criticism over its selection of Obama before the first black US president had achieved anything notable in office.

The 2013 Peace Prize will be announced on 11 October. A total of 259 people and groups were nominated by the February deadline, including Manning, Pakistani schoolgirl Malala Yousufzai, Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos and Myanmar President Thein Sein.