WikiLeaks nominated for Nobel Peace Prize

2 Feb 2011

WikiLeaks has been nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize for the role it has played in protecting human rights, democracy and freedom.

The site, edited by Julian Assange, has been nominated by 26-year-old Norwegian politician Snorre Valen of the Socialist Left Party.

In his blog, Valen cited its work in exposing corruption, war crimes and torture through the release of classified documents.

Valen also commended WikiLeaks for its role in exposing nepotism in Tunisia and playing a small part in the collapse of the regime in the North African country.

Every year, the Nobel Peace Prize Committee receives 200 nominations. The winner of last year’s Nobel Peace Prize was Chinese dissident Liu Xiaobo.

The internet and freedom of speech

“Publishing material that is deemed classified by the government is an obvious right that newspapers and media have practised for many, many decades,” Valens said in his blog.

“This way, the public has become aware of abuses of power that governments should be held accountable for. The internet doesn’t change this – it merely makes information more accessible, easier to distribute, and more democratic in the sense that virtually anyone with an internet connection can contribute.

“Nevertheless, many seek to redraw the map of information freedom with the emergence of institutions like WikiLeaks. Political powers and institutions that ordinarily protect freedom of speech suddenly warn against the danger, the threat to security, yes even the ‘terrorism’ that WikiLeaks represents.

“In doing so, they fail in upholding democratic values and human rights. In fact, they contribute to the opposite. It is not, and should never be, the privilege of politicians to regulate which crimes the public should never be told about, and through which media those crimes become known,” Valens said.

John Kennedy is a journalist who served as editor of Silicon Republic for 17 years