Two Norwegian politicians have put Edward Snowden’s name forward for the Nobel Peace Prize saying that his actions have contributed to a “more stable and peaceful world order.” The National Security Agency (NSA) contract worker turned whistleblower is currently a political refugee with an uncertain future. Baard Vegar Solhjell and Snorre Valen combined to nominate him. It is a step that is bound to divide international opinion as everything that Snowden has already done has tended to do.
To many, he is a hero and to others, he is a traitor. Since his revelations have clearly led to the Obama Administration taking steps to review the NSA and curtail the extent of its spying capabilities, there is a whole new middle-ground, where it is not so black and white. The metadata base NSA were compiling has been deemed “likely unconstitutional” and it would never have been uncloaked without Snowden.
For that reason alone, say some, Snowden has done his country great service and is a patriot. He sacrified his own liberty for the good of all. Anthony Romero of the American Civil Liberties Union, says that by igniting the global debate about surveillance by various governments, Snowden has supported the fundamental rights of all individuals.
Those who will oppose this candidacy will criticize Snowden on the grounds that he put people’s lives in danger, and national security at grave risk, by exposing so many secrets about America and the mechanisms of its intelligence operations. He was one man acting alone, and he took it upon himself to uncover classified information.
Of course, this lone stance against what he saw as wrongdoing, is what makes Snowden a classic folk hero to others.
This “taking it into his own hands” aspect is one that Obama has commented on recently. He said if individuals opted to act as Snowden did he could not guarantee being able to “keep our people safe” nor to “conduct foreign policy.” This was corroborated by a Pentagon assessment which determined the Snowden leaks had harmed the US security. Indeed, James Clapper, said “profound damage” had been done and that the “perfect storm” kicked up by Snowden had endangered all Americans and assisted terrorists. Clapper is the director of national intelligence.
Clapper is not likely to be impressed with the nomination for the Nobel Peace Prize for Edward Snowden, in light of those comments. Snowden supporters would point to the fact that Clapper initially lied to Congress about the phone database (although he did later apologise).
The Norwegians who have nominated Edward Snowden have considered all the arguments about him causing harm. Weighing it up, they elected that he did more good than harm. They see him as a crucial world player in restoring the balance “between security and liberty.” Playing it safe, they did not “neseccarily support or condone all of his disclosures.” On balance though, they believe his whisteblowing has reintroduced trust and transparency where it was missing, and those are values and principles whose “value can’t be overestimated.”
The United States still wants to put Edward Snowden on trial. Meanwhile, he is still under temporary asylum under the wing of Russia’s President Putin, although this time is running out. A petition is currently running online to persuade Brazil to take him in.
Should Snowden go ahead and be given the Nobel Peace Prize he would join President Obama in the elite club of winners. Obama won in 2009. Others recipients include Nelson Mandela, Martin Luther King and Henry Kissinger. The results are announced in October.
By Kate Henderson