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Friday, July 19, 2013

Snowden: Nobel Peace Prize Nominee

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Stephen Lendman

Swedish Sociology Professor Stefan Svallfors nominated him. He praised his "heroic effort at great personal cost."

He revealed NSA's lawless global spying. He told millions worldwide what they need to know. He did so at great risk. 

He deserves high praise, not persecution. He showed "individuals can stand up for fundamental rights and freedoms," said Svallfors. 

His nominating letter states:

"Best committee members!

I suggest that the 2013 Peace Prize (be) awarded to the American citizen Edward Snowden.

Edward Snowden has - in a heroic effort at great personal cost - revealed the existence and extent of the surveillance, the US government devotes electronic communications worldwide. 

By putting light on this monitoring program - conducted in contravention of national laws and international agreements - Edward Snowden has helped to make the world a little bit better and safer."

Through his personal efforts, he has also shown that individuals can stand up for fundamental rights and freedoms. 

This example is important because since the Nuremberg trials in 1945 (it's) been clear that the slogan 'I was just following orders' (rings hollow) as an excuse for acts contrary to human rights and freedoms." 

Despite this, it is very rare that individual citizens have the insight of their personal responsibility and courage Edward Snowden showed in his revelation of the American surveillance program. 

For this reason, he is a highly (deserving) candidate.

The decision to award the 2013 prize to Edward Snowden would - in addition to being well justified in itself - also help to save Nobel (Committee members) from the(ir) disrepute (resulting from) the hasty and ill-conceived decision to award US President Barack Obama 2009 award. 

It would show (their) willingness to stand up in defense of civil liberties and human rights, even when such a defense (would) be viewed with disfavour by the world's dominant military power."


Stefan Svallfors 
Professor of Sociology at Umea University

Honoring Obama wasn't the first disgraceful award. Many others preceded it. More followed. Nobel hypocrisy is longstanding. Worthy recipients are rare. War criminals win often. 

Doing so mocks peace. It reflects gross injustice. Perhaps committee members believe war is peace. Don't expect them to explain why scoundrels regularly win. Political expediency, not worthiness, matters most.

Russian Duma International Committee of the Russian State head Alexey Pushkov is right, saying:

Not in a million years will the United States allow Snowden to get the Peace Prize. But his nomination is significant. Many in the West see him as a champion of democracy.
Millions do worldwide. This type support is reward enough. It's priceless. It can't be bought. It can't be denied. It can't be ignored. It has meaning. It's what Nobel scoundrels lack - integrity to do what's right regardless of risks involved.
Svallfors is credentialed to submit nominations. Qualified individuals include:

members of national assemblies and governments;

international courts members;

university rectors;

social sciences, history, philosophy, law and theology professors;

peace research organizations;

foreign policy institutes;

former Nobel recipients;
board members of organizations awarded the prize;

active Nobel Committee members; and
former Committee advisors.
Annual awards are supposed to be given to "person(s) who shall have done the most or the best work for fraternity between nations, for the abolition or reduction of standing armies, and for the holding and promotion of peace congresses."

Nobel words ring hollow. Awards reflect polar opposite principles. They're not what members claim. It happens with disturbing regularity. It doesn't surprise.

Snowden's eligible for the December 2014 award. The deadline for this year's nominations ended in February. Winners are invited to Oslo to receive it. Snowden can't come.

Norway rejected his asylum request. Washington pressured its decision. Aftenposten is Norway's largest circulation broadsheet. 

It said granting him asylum's the diplomatic equivalent of war on America. It's why most countries reject him. They cravenly support what's wrong.

Norway's a NATO country. The North Atlantic Alliance is America's imperial tool. It's a killing machine. It's for offense, not defense. 

It advances Washington's imperium. It does so destructively. Norway's one of 12 founding members. It's been one since April 4, 1949.

Imagine if China, Russia, Venezuela, Iran, or other independent countries pressured Norway and other Western countries not to grant one of their citizens asylum. 

Their request would be denied. Their ambassadors would be called on the carpet. Perhaps they'd be expelled. Western hypocrisy is longstanding. Double standards are common practice.

Washington rules apply. Rule of law principles are spurned. Democratic values are mocked. Honor and integrity don't matter. It doesn't surprise.

On July 16, Russia Today headlined "Russia receives Snowden temporary asylum request," saying:

Russia's Federal Migration Service(FMS) confirmed receipt. Processing may take several months. In the meantime, he'll either be transferred temporarily to a refugee center or allowed to choose his own accommodations.

A previous article said he'll be given freedom of movement. He'll get special permit permission to do so. He'll have it in a matter of days.

According to Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov, Putin's apprised of what's happening. He abstained from the process.

"If we are talking about temporary asylum, then this issue is not for the president, but the FMS, where it is not even reviewed on a chief's level," said Peskov.

On Tuesday, human rights lawyer Anatoly Kucherena said Snowden "handed over his application to Sheremetyevo's (FMS) staff."

"I told him about all the intricacies of the procedure." 

"It was decided that a staff member from the FMS office will come to the airport to accept Snowden’s temporary asylum request, as he is not allowed to leave Sheremetyevo’s transit zone."

"He is being pursued by the US government. That's what he wrote." 

"I am quoting - and he fears for his life, safety, that he will be tortured or receive the death penalty."

His situation is very difficult. He's a man without a country. He's wrongly pursued for doing the right thing. He's no criminal.

He's undecided whether to remain in Russia or move to a permanent safe haven. If granted temporary asylum, he may decide to say if permitted to do so.

"Talking to me," said Kucherena, "he did not mention that he was going to move to another country after he receives asylum. It looks to me like he has not made a final decision."

He had a choice. He could have applied for political or temporary asylum. He chose the latter because review time is months shorter. 

He's tired of living in airport transit zone limbo. Temporary asylum grants humanitarian status. It postpones or avoids deportation.

If approved, he can stay in Russia 12 months. He can be granted another year and a third. Perhaps longer with FMS approval. According to FMS' Public Chamber head Vladimir Volokh:

For the next several days, Snowden will either remain in Sheremetyevo’s transit zone or move temporarily to an asylum center.

"Right now we are beginning the first stage - the definition of (his) legal status," Volokh said.

He "would have to be in the transit area, or FMS can transfer him to the temporary accommodation for refugees for internally displaced persons."

Russia Today interviewed Anatoly Kucherena. He explained the complexities of Russia's asylum process.

It's decision to review his request is based on human rights considerations.

"In terms of his legal status," said Kucherena, "receiving political asylum or temporary asylum would not change status. In terms of receiving political asylum status, the procedure is quite long - 6 months." 

"Receiving temporary asylum will only take up to 3 months. He chose this option."

He's tired of transit zone limbo. He wants resolution soon as possible. If FMS "rules in favor of his petition, he will be issued a refugee ID."

It permits free movement anywhere for a year. He'll have "full rights and privileges of a Russian citizen."

He'll make his own accommodation arrangements. Kucherena agreed to represent him.

"Russia's humane approach in resolving this issue, without a doubt bears witness to the fact that no matter who or which country the individual comes from, in times of such difficult personal troubles, we have to act humanely toward that individual," he said.

"I believe that under such circumstances and his written petition, it is necessary for him to be granted temporary asylum." 

"I think it will be a humane step, and since Russia is acting humanly, the US government cannot view it as a hostile step or hostile behavior toward the US."

Kucherena believes Snowden's a man of his word. He's morally and legally right. His fears are credible.

He's ideologically driven. He calls it "unacceptable to violate universal human rights on such a large scale."

He may decide to stay in Russia. He told Kucherena he'd like to stay. If granted permission he'll "become a citizen with all rights and privileges."

For now, Russia's his safest option. Travel outside its borders is too hazardous to risk. He may decide to stay permanently. 

He's got plenty of time to resolve his final status. He'll get competent help doing so.

A Final Comment

The Movement of the Icelandic Parliament, EU Pirate parties, and former Tunisian Secretary of State for Sport & Youth nominated Bradley Manning for the 2013 Nobel Peace Prize.

So did past award winner Mairead Maguire, saying:

I have chosen to nominate US Army Pfc Bradley Manning, for I can think of no one more deserving. 
His incredible disclosure of secret documents to Wikileaks helped end the Iraq War, and may have helped prevent further conflicts elsewhere.
Manning connected important dots. He did so for millions. He exposed war horrors graphically. He did so at great risk. He suffered horrendously for doing the right thing.

Maguire's right. No one's more deserving. Let America try explaining why it plans imprisoning a peace prize honoree. Lift the bar beyond its reach. Show its ugly face. Make it answerable for gross injustice. Let the whole world know better than before.

Eugene Debs should have won. In 1924, he was nominated. Nobel Committee members rejected him. On April 13, 1919, he was imprisoned. He opposed WW I. He was against America's involvement. 

Woodrow Wilson called him a traitor. He urged draft resistance. He faced 10 sedition counts. His trial defense called no witnesses. He alone addressed the court.

He spoke for two hours. He was convicted. At sentencing, he spoke again. Journalist Heywood Broun called his speech "one of the most beautiful and moving passages in the English language." 

"He was for that one afternoon touched with inspiration. If anyone told me that tongues of fire danced upon his shoulders as he spoke, I would believe it."

In part, he said:

Your honor, I have stated in this court that I am opposed to the form of our present government; that I am opposed to the social system in which we live; that I believe in the change of both but by perfectly peaceable and orderly means…. 
I am thinking this morning of the men in the mills and factories. I am thinking of the women who, for a paltry wage, are compelled to work out their lives; of the little children who, in this system, are robbed of their childhood, and in their early, tender years, are seized in the remorseless grasp of Mammon, and forced into the industrial dungeons, there to feed the machines while they themselves are being starved body and soul…. 
Your honor, I ask no mercy. I plead for no immunity. I realize that finally the right must prevail.

I never more fully comprehended than now the great struggle between the powers of greed on the one hand and upon the other the rising hosts of freedom.

I can see the dawn of a better day of humanity. The people are awakening. In due course of time they will come into their own. 
Your Honor, years ago I recognized my kinship with all living beings, and I made up my mind that I was not one bit better than the meanest on earth.

I said then, and I say now, that while there is a lower class, I am in it, and while there is a criminal element, I am of it, and while there is a soul in prison, I am not free.
He appealed his conviction to the Supreme Court. It rejected him. In 1920, he ran for president in Atlanta, GA prison. He got 919,799 write-in votes.

On December 23, 1921, Warren Harding commuted his sentence to time served. He wasn't pardoned. He returned to Terre Haute, IN. Thousands greeted him.

In 1924, Finish socialist Kark Wiik nominated him for the Nobel Peace Prize. He did so because Debs "work(ed) actively for peace during WW 1." He considered it waged for "the interest(s) of capitalism."

No award was granted that year. On October 20, 1926, heart failure took him. On October 26, a supporter said his epitaph should read:

He who labored incessantly for others, at last found rest. He who waged ceaseless strife on behalf of his brothers has entered into the eternal peace.
Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago and can be reached at His new book is titled How Wall Street Fleeces America: Privatized Banking, Government Collusion and Class War Also visit his blog site and listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network Thursdays at 10AM US Central time and Saturdays and Sundays at noon. All programs are archived for easy listening. 

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