In a surprise move, National Security Agency whistleblower Edward Snowden has been nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize.
In a joint submission, Norwegian politicians Bård Vegard Solhjell and Snorre Valen, both members of the Norwegian Parliament, named Snowden as a nominee Wednesday.
In their submission, the pair wrote that Snowden “revealed the nature and technological prowess of modern surveillance. 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.”
The 30-year-old, who was granted temporary asylum in Russia, has been charged with espionage by the U.S. Justice Department for leaking classified NSA documentation to U.K. publication The Guardian and The Washington Post.
The Obama administration and the NSA have been under fire both from American citizens and other countries since Snowden’s revelations of several massive spying programs went public last year.
Snowden recently issued a plea for clemency, saying that telling “the truth is not a crime.”
His story has gained international attention, something not lost on those nominating him for the prestigious award.
“The new information technologies of the past few decades bring new possibilities for democratization, transparency, and freedom of expression. But they also introduce new tools of oppression, surveillance, and espionage,” the submission said.
The amount of surveillance on ordinary citizens’ lives has surpassed anything imagined 20 to 30 years ago, the letter continued. When countries use those abilities with disregard for the rights and freedoms of citizens their own legitimacy is undermined.
Not all of Snowden’s actions are supported, Solhjell and Valen wrote, but “the public debate and changes in policy that have followed in the wake of Snowden’s whistleblowing have 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. Its value can’t be overestimated.”