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WikiLeaks nominated for Nobel Peace Prize

Mother Teresa, Elie Wiesel, Nelson Mandela - and WikiLeaks? The whistle-blowing website has been nominated to join the world's greatest humanitarians as recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize.

Graphic of the Nobel prize

WikiLeaks could join the eminent list of past Nobel Peace Prize laureates

After a Tuesday deadline to submit nominees for the Nobel Peace Prize, Norwegian parliamentarian Snorre Valen announced he had entered WikiLeaks as a candidate for the prestigious award.

Nominations can be handed in by members of national assemblies and governments of states, members of international courts, university professors and directors of peace and foreign policy institutes.

WikiLeaks' work exposing government secrets has earned it the enmity of countries around the world, especially the US. But Valen told Deutsche Welle that WikiLeaks deserved the Nobel prize for contributing to world peace.

"One instance is the exposure of the corruption in Tunisia, where [ousted president Zine El Abidine] Ben Ali, the dictator, was exposed," Valen said. "That contributed, in a small part, to the fall of a more than 24-year-long regime."

WikiLeaks caught the world's attention with the publication of thousands of secret US reports on the war in Afghanistan last summer. Since then, it has stayed in the public eye with similar reports on the war in Iraq, and the gradual release of some 250,000 secret US diplomatic cables.

Picture of Norwegian parliamentarian Snorre Valen

Valen says the nomination is to support free speech

Valen said another reason he nominated WikiLeaks for the Nobel Peace Prize was to support free speech.

"Even though I do not approve of everything WikiLeaks does, I think it's very important to protect the freedom of speech and the transparency WikiLeaks represents," he said.

A WikiLeaks spokesperson greeted the nomination enthusiastically. Kristinn Hrafnsonn told Norwegian broadcaster NRK the nomination acknowledges the influence WikiLeaks has had, and is going to have.

Long-shot candidate

However, Nobel Peace Prize expert Kristian Berg Harpviken, of the Peace Research Institute Oslo, told Deutsche Welle a Nobel Peace Prize for WikiLeaks is unlikely.

"WikiLeaks has been very controversial," he said, "particularly because they have been letting information into the public domain which is potentially harmful to individuals."

Now that the Nobel committee has received nominations from politicians, academics, and others around the world, the committee's five members are working to create a short list of candidates by the end of the month. They are expected to announce the winner around October.

In the mean time, WikiLeaks' founder Julian Assange is waiting to find out if England will send him to Sweden, where authorities want to question him over allegations he sexually assaulted two Swedish women last year. An extradition hearing is scheduled for Monday.

Author: Shant Shahrigian
Editor: Andreas Illmer

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