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NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden is nominated for Nobel Peace Prize

Former government contractor could join President Obama, Henry Kissinger and Nelson Mandela in historic list

Barack Obama may have a to-do pile full of Edward Snowden-related headaches, but the NSA whistleblower might be joining him on one of the world's more prestigious clubs.

Mr Snowden has been nominated by two Norwegian MPs for the Nobel Peace Prize, a gong the President himself won in 2009.

Baard Vegard Solhjell, a former environment minister, and Snorre Valen said on Wednesday the public debate and policy changes "in the wake of Snowden's whistleblowing has contributed to a more stable and peaceful world order."

Mr Snowden, who had worked as a contractor for the National Security Agency, made global headlines beginning in June last year when he unleashed revelation after revelation about government snooping in various countries.

His releases sparked diplomatic grumbles aplenty. One of the more problematic was the revelation that US spies tapped the German Chancellor Angela Merkel's personal mobile phone.

Having fled the USA, initially for Hong Kong, he is currently in Russia under temporary asylum, though there have been hints that he could return to his native US, where the government deems him a criminal, under a plea bargain.

Late last year he was pipped to another august title - that of Time magazine's Person of the Year, which Pope Francis won.

The NSA tapped Angela Merkel's phone, Snowden revealed

In a joint statement, Solhjell and Valen said: "There is no doubt that the actions of Edward Snowden may have damaged the security interests of several nations in the short term.

"We are, however, convinced that the public debate and changes in policy that have followed in the wake of Snowden's whistleblowing has contributed to a more stable and peaceful world order.

"His actions have in effect led to the reintroduction of trust and transparency as a leading principle in global security policies."

Snowden's revelations have sparked outrage about the scope of government snooping (Reuters)

Thousands of people around the world are eligible to nominate candidates for the prize, including any member of any national assembly. There were 259 nominees for last year's prize.

The Norwegian Nobel Committee will collect nominations for the 2014 prize up to 1 February and finalise a shortlist on 4 March, when the committee holds its first meeting of the year and members submit their own nominations. The winner will be announced on 10 October.

Former winners of the Nobel Peace Prize, which has been running since 1901 and is awarded annually in Oslo, Norway, include Nelson Mandela, Henry Kissinger, and Martin Luther King.

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Edward Snowden first speaks out