U.S. fugitive Edward Snowden has been nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize. A pair of Norwegian lawmakers announced the news on Wednesday and argued that his whistleblowing "has contributed to a more stable and peaceful world order."
Bard Vegar Solhjell and Snorre Valen of the Socialist Left Party in Norway admitted in a joint statement that Snowden's revelations "may have damaged the security interests of several nations in the short term," and that they do not support all of his actions, but are "convinced" that the public debate on policy changes that has followed has benefited the world.
"His actions have in effect led to the reintroduction of trust and transparency as a leading principle in global security policies. Its value can't be overestimated," the members of the Norwegian Parliament added.
As national lawmakers, Solhjell and Valen are qualified to make such a nomination, according to the official rules of the Nobel Peace Prize.
Snowden, a former National Security Agency contractor, admitted last year to leaking information about secret U.S. programs that collect data on all phone calls made on the Verizon network, as well as the Internet data of foreigners from major Internet companies like Microsoft, Google, and Apple.
Snowden has been charged with three felonies by the U.S. for his actions, and is currently living in Russia under temporary asylum.
President Barack Obama, who won a Nobel Peace Prize in 2009, has said that Snowden is not a patriot, and called him to surrender to American authorities and stand trial.
"If in fact he believes that what he did was right, then, like every American citizen, he can come here, appear before the court with a lawyer and make his case," Obama said in August.
In their letter, Solhjell and Valen commented on the rising importance of information technologies on the global scale, noting that they can be tools for freedom of expression but also tools of oppression, surveillance, and espionage.
"When democratic countries make widespread use of these possibilities without regard to people's rights to free expression, and the basic principles of the rule of law, they undermine their own legitimacy, and ability to effectively criticize and change the oppressive politics, massive surveillance, not to mention the censorship, of authoritarian regimes," the Norwegian politicians stated, adding that Snowden has "contributed critical knowledge about how modern surveillance and intelligence directed towards states and citizens is carried out."