Swedish ISP to Nominate Snowden for Nobel Peace Prize

Bahnhof — the Swedish Internet Service Provider embroiled in international controversy because it houses the Wikileaks servers — took another stand in support of leakers Tuesday, when it announced that it would endorse Edward Snowden for the Nobel Peace Prize.

The folks at Wired had it first:

The U.S. has charged Snowden with theft and espionage for leaking secret documents that outline the National Security Agency’s domestic surveillance programs. But to many, he’s a heroic whistleblower who has shone a light on a shadowy and excessive government effort to track our personal behavior online.

That’s how Bahnhof CEO Jon Karlung sees it. To those who know him, that’s not a surprise. Three years ago, he was both a hosting provider and vocal supporter of Wikileaks, helping to house the operation in a Cold War-era nuclear bunker. His company hasn’t recommended people for Nobel Prizes before, but he says he decided to name Snowden because the former NSA contractor’s leaks have been so important.

Karlung admits that he doesn't have high hopes that the prestigious award, set to be announced October 11, will be awarded to Snowden. He's also not the first to suggest America's latest leaker for the prize: a left-wing Danish party and a Swedish professor have already tossed Snowden's name into the ring.

President Barack Obama, who has been put on the defensive by Snowden's leaks, won the prize in 2009. There's no doubt that awarding the prize to Snowden would be a seen as a major snub to him by the international community.

Chelsea Manning, the soldier who leaked hundreds of thousands of classified cables and intelligence documents to Wikileaks while stationed in Iraq, is another hero for government accountability groups. A petition to award the Nobel Peace Prize to Manning — who has been nominated for the award each of the past three years — has over 100,000 signatures. Earlier this month, Manning was sentenced to over three decades in prison.

But Manning's leaks primarily concerned the Iraq and Afghanistan war logs.

Snowden revelations, on the other hand, exposed actions against U.S. citizens and American allies. Secret documents revealed by Snowden routinely contradicted privacy assurances given by the Obama administration. A recent round of revelations showed that the NSA had monitored upwards of 50,000 conversations between U.S. citizens, not just between citizens and foreigners as the government had claimed.

The leaks also revealed extensive collaboration with British authorities. On Sunday, German magazine Der Spiegel announced that documents provided by Snowden show that the NSA was monitoring the United Nations complex in New York.

All this makes Snowden a likelier pick for the prize than Manning. But both are up against a slate of less controversial nominees, including teenage education activist Malala Yousafzai, and Russian human rights activist Lyudmila Alexeyeva.

Pentagon Papers whistleblower Daniel Ellsberg was never awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for his leaks about the Vietnam War, which went public through the New York Times in 1971 (though he received the Gandhi Peace Award in 1978 and the Right Livelihood Award in 2006).

"In my estimation, there has not been in American history a more important leak than Edward Snowden's release of NSA material – and that definitely includes the Pentagon Papers 40 years ago," Ellsberg wrote in The Guardian earlier this year.