President Obama and Edward Snowden don’t see eye to eye on much, but they have at least one thing in common: Both have been nominated for the prestigious Nobel Peace Prize.
Snorre Valen and Baard Vegar Solhjell, two members of Norway’s Socialist Left Party, announced on Facebook Wednesday that they have nominated the former National Security Agency contractor for helping to restore the balance between national security and individual freedoms.
“Edward Snowden has revealed the nature and technological prowess of modern surveillance,” the pair wrote. “The level of sophistication and depth of surveillance that citizens all over the world are subject to has stunned us and stirred debate all over the world. By doing this, he has contributed critical knowledge about how modern surveillance and intelligence directed towards states and citizens is carried out.”
Yet even in announcing their nomination, the duo admits that Snowden is a controversial figure whose actions are not necessarily entirely pure. There is “no doubt” Snowden “may have damaged the security interests of several nations in the short term,” they said, adding they “do not necessarily condone or support all of his disclosures.”
Despite such concessions, the nominators concluded:
“A country’s legitimate need for reliable intelligence to preserve its own security, must always be balanced against the people’s individual freedoms — and the global need for trust — as an integral condition for stability and peace. Edward Snowden has made a critical contribution to restoring this balance.”
The nomination further suggests that, despite the administration’s best efforts, debate over the proper size and scope of the National Security Agency’s surveillance powers is here to stay in 2014. Earlier this month, Obama enumerated several NSA reforms he hopes to complete in the coming months, but many privacy advocates were left unsatisfied. Meanwhile, Snowden-fueled leaks about “leaky” apps and the British government’s ability to tap into cables transferring international Web traffic continued this week.
Snowden was also nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize last July by a Swedish sociology professor for showing “that individuals can stand up for fundamental rights and freedoms.” That nomination, which came one month after major publications around the world began disclosing top-secret documents about the NSA’s surveillance programs bestowed upon them by Snowden, was submitted after the Feb. 1 deadline, however.
The winner will not be announced until the second week of October, leaving us months to speculate about what a Snowden acceptance speech in Oslo might look like.
In 2009, Obama won the prize, delivering a speech that famously noted, “To say that force may sometimes be necessary is not a call to cynicism — it is a recognition of history; the imperfections of man; and the limits of reason.”
“I begin with this point because in many countries there is a deep ambivalence about military action today, no matter what the cause. And at times, this is joined by a reflexive suspicion of America, the world’s sole military superpower.”
Journalist and Snowden confidant Glenn Greenwald shared his thoughts of the nomination on Twitter: