WikiLeaks snares Nobel nomination
February 2, 2011
UPDATED: A member of the Norwegian Parliament (Stortinget) has nominated the whistle-blowing website WikiLeaks for this year’s Nobel Peace Prize – a suggestion that quickly drew controversy as the prize itself often does. A Cuban dissident also won a Nobel nod.
Snorre Valen, a representative of the Socialist Left Party (Sosialistisk venstreparti, SV), highlighted WikiLeaks’ work in bringing important and hidden documents to light, as well as the website’s contribution to the debate on freedom of speech and openness in modern society. He placed particular emphasis on the role that releases from the website played in bringing down the 24-year dictatorship in Tunisia.
“WikiLeaks is one of this century’s most important contributors to free speech and transparency,” Valen told news bureau NTB. “WikiLeaks has published and contributed to revealing cases of corruption committed by governments and companies, and perhaps most importantly revealed illegal surveillance, war crimes and torture committed by a number of states.”
Valen’s nomination met immediate criticism. Anders Anundsen of the right-wing Progress Party (Fremskrittspartiets, Frp), described the proposal as “hair-raising,” telling Norwegian Broadcasting (NRK) that he is “quite convinced that the Nobel committee will never consider giving the prize to WikiLeaks.”
The Director of the Peace Research Institute Oslo (PRIO), Kristian Berg Harpviken, also doubts WikiLeaks’ chances for actually winning. He said Wikileaks “has received strong and legitimate criticism for releasing information that can be harmful for individuals and international diplomats.”
Harpviken believes, though, that the nomination alone will “generate debate” in the run-up to the prize, which is announced in October and awarded in December. Nominations are currently being collected by the Norwegian Nobel Committee in Oslo, which never comments on individual nominations. Those making the nominations, however, are free to disclose their candidates.
Among them this week were a group of parliamentarians from two of Norway’s opposition parties, the Conservatives (Høyre) and the Christian Democrats (Kristelig Folkeparti). They have nominated Cuban dissident Oswaldo Paya Sardinas for the Nobel Peace Prize, claiming that he has succeeded in uniting various opposition groups in Cuba, and that he has made the dissidents’ struggle known in Cuban society.