Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Snowden Gets Nobel Nomination as U.S. Pursues Trial

President Barack Obama wants to see Edward Snowden clapped in irons and bound to the U.S. for a criminal trial. Two Norwegian politicians have a different fate in mind for Snowden: the Nobel Peace Prize.

Norwegian parliamentarians Snorre Valen and Baard Vegar Solhjell nominated Snowden for the award -- the same honor Obama himself won in 2009 -- for his disclosures about National Security Agency spying.

The idea that the Nobel committee would bestow its most prestigious prize on a man some in the U.S. consider a traitor drew a dismissive response from a White House official, who said Snowden instead should be tried as a felon.

Snowden “should be returned to the U.S. 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.

Two Norwegians agreed that Snowden’s leaks undoubtedly “damaged the security interests of several nations in the short term” and that they didn’t necessarily condone or support all his disclosures. The revelations did have a positive impact, they said.

 Sparking Debate

“The public debate and changes in policy that have followed in the wake of Snowden’s whistleblowing have contributed to a more stable and peaceful world order,” Valen and Solhjell, who represent the Socialist Left Party in the Norwegian parliament, wrote in their nomination letter, which was obtained by Bloomberg. Solhjell was environment minister in the former Labor-led government.

Obama was spurred to make changes in U.S. surveillance programs in response to 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 U.S.

The Nobel committee doesn’t release the names of nominees for 50 years, though those who make the nominations are free to do so. Nominees may be given to the five-member committee by a 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 U.S. government documents and which has been assisting Snowden. Bradley Manning, a U.S. soldier who is serving a 35-year sentence for providing documents to Wikileaks, was nominated last year.

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