Wikileaks – but not Assange – nominated for Nobel peace prize

Wikileaks is on the list of nominees for the 2011 Nobel Peace Prize – but with 240 other contenders, the competition will be fierce.

The Nobel Committee never reveals the names of nominees. But those who make nominations are allowed to do so and Norwegian politician Snorre Valen says he’s put up Wikileaks for the honor.

The criteria for the prizes were detailed in Alfred Nobel’s will in 1895. In it, he ordered a Peace Prize to go to “the person who shall have done the most or the best work for fraternity between nations, the abolition or reduction of standing armies and for the holding and promotion of peace congresses”.

And Valen says that Wikileaks fits the bill.

“Wikileaks have contributed to the struggle for those very values globally, by exposing (among many other things) corruption, war crimes and torture – sometimes even conducted by allies of Norway,” he says in a statement.

“And most recently, by disclosing the economic arrangements by the presidential family in Tunisia, Wikileaks have made a small contribution to bringing down a 24-year-lasting dictatorship.”

It’s a good argument – but one that neglects to address the fact that Wikileaks isn’t actually a person. While 52 other nominees are also organizations rather than individuals, they surely stand a lower chance of winning – after all, you can’t hang a medal around the neck of a website.

And it’s also notable that Valen nominated Wikileaks rather than its founder, Julian Assange. With the prizewinner due to be chosen in October, Assange will almost certainly still have legal allegations hanging over him. It would have been rather hard to argue that a man who may have committed rape and sexual assault was really worthy of the prize.

Of course, if Wikileaks really did win, the US government might be less than happy. Last year, the prize went to jailed Chinese activist Liu Xiaob. He was barred by his government from attending the ceremony on the grounds that he was a criminal.

At the time, Barack Obama commented: “The values he espouses are universal, his struggle is peaceful, and he should be released as soon as possible. I regret that Mr Liu and his wife were denied the opportunity to attend the ceremony that Michelle and I attended last year.”

It would be interesting to see what he said if Wikileaks were this year’s winner.