WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange has been nominated for the 2011 Nobel Peace Prize, Snorre Valen, the Norwegian politician behind the proposal, announced Wednesday. Referring to the promotion of human rights, democracy, and free speech, Valen said that “Wikileaks have contributed to the struggle for those very values globally, by exposing (among many other things) corruption, war crimes and torture — sometimes even conducted by allies of Norway.”
The prize, endowed by Alfred Nobel, the Swedish inventor of dynamite, was originally intended for the individual most successful at advancing fraternity between nations, the abolition or reduction of standing armies, and the promotion of peace. In past decades, however, the Nobel committee has stretched the award’s definition to include human rights, climate activism, and even micro-financing.
Assange is responsible for posting hundreds of thousands of secret U.S. cables for the public to see on his WikiLeaks site, endangering the lives of U.S. officials working abroad, troops in Afghanistan and Iraq, and the position of U.S. allies in the international community. Since their release, the Obama administration has been exploring ways to prosecute Assange, possibly for espionage.
The nomination of someone like Assange for the Nobel no longer surprises. Longtime terrorist Yasser Arafat received the once-prestigious award in 1994 for his supposed “efforts to create peace in the Middle East.” And the do-nothing UN nuclear agency, the IAEA, and its then-head Mohamed ElBaradei received the award in 2005 for “their efforts to prevent nuclear energy from being used for military purposes and to ensure that nuclear energy for peaceful purposes is used in the safest possible way.”