Staff and Wire Reports / USA Today – 2013-08-14 00:25:46
OSLO (August 12, 2013) — A pacifist group has submitted a petition signed by 100,000 people online in support of awarding the Nobel Peace Prize to US soldier Bradley Manning, who was convicted of espionage for disclosing classified war information to WikiLeaks.
Nobel Prize Committee officials acknowledged receiving the petition from RootsAction, which opposed the US wars in Afghanistan and Iraq and is a critic of the anti-terror polices of President Obama. The group opposes the use of drone strikes, and the attempt to extradite National Security Agency leaker Edward Snowden.
The peace prize is awarded annually to an individual who has worked for “fraternity between nations, for the abolition or reduction of standing armies and for the holding and promotion of peace congresses.”
Petitions have no bearing on the selection of a recipient for the $1 million prize, though they are often submitted on behalf of a candidate, according to the Nobel prize committee.
Manning, an Army private first class who who faces up to 90 years in prison, was nominated by Mairead Maguire, who won the 1976 Nobel Peace Prize along with Betty Williams for trying to resolve hostilities between the Irish Republican Army and the British government.
Maguire is an anti-war activist and has championed the cause of the Palestinians, having taken part in an attempt to bust a naval blockade that Israel imposes against the designated terrorist group Hamas to prevent weapons from entering Gaza.
In her nomination of Manning, Maguire said his leaks of classified information helped end the war in Iraq by hastening foreign troop withdrawals and also helped prevent further US intervention in the Middle East.
Monday’s petition was given to the Nobel committee by Norman Solomon, co-founder of RootsAction, who told Reuters that giving the prize to Manning would help repair the Nobel panel’s reputation following its choice of Obama for the 2009 peace prize.
“There’s a cloud hanging over the Nobel Peace Committee,” Solomon said.
“In a sense, the Nobel Peace Prize at this point needs Bradley Manning more than Bradley Manning needs the Nobel Peace Prize,” he said. “There has now grown a question about the Nobel committee’s commitment to human rights and peace in an even-handed, independent way.”
Manning, 25, was convicted earlier this month of espionage and theft for releasing more than 700,000 battlefield videos, diplomatic cables and other secret documents to the website WikiLeaks, whose founder Julian Assange is holed up in the Ecuador Embassy in London to avoid a court-ordered extradition to Sweden on suspicion of rape.
A representative of the Nobel committee said the petition would not influence its decision.
“The Nobel Peace Prize is not a popularity contest and a large number of signatures will neither help nor hinder (Manning’s) candidacy,” said Asle Toje, the Norwegian Nobel Committee’s research director.
The winner of the 2013 Peace Prize will be announced Oct. 11. Among the 259 people and groups nominated are Pakistani schoolgirl Malala Yousufzai, Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos and Burmese President Thein Sein.
Contributing: The Associated Press
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