Manning, Snowden: World Weighs Treason vs. Nobel Prize
NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- Bradley Manning and Edward Snowden, both of whom leaked secret U.S. military and government documents to the public, have each been nominated twice for the Nobel Peace Prize, according to European media reports.
Manning is currently in jail in Fort Meade, Md., following the closing of his military trial last week. According to media reports late in the afternoon July 29, the judge in the case, Army Col. Denise Lind, said she expects to announce the verdict 1 p.m. ET Tuesday, July 30. Manning has pleaded guilty to 10 lesser charges out of the 22 filed against him.
Manning spent 11 months in solitary confinement following his arrest May 27, 2010, before being moved first to Leavenworth and later to Fort Meade.
Witnesses have testified that Manning downloaded and leaked hundreds of thousands of documents, among them a now-famous video, available on YouTube, of a U.S. helicopter firing on a two groups in Baghdad, including children. The attacks killed a dozen people including a Reuters TV news cameraman, according to a CNN account.
The government claims the leaked documents jeopardized national security and put lives in danger. Vice President Joe Biden in 2010 dismissed the portrayal of Manning as a whistle-blower and said his actions were more those of "a high-tech terrorist." The defense and Manning's supporters claim the leaks had very little impact beyond publicly shaming the military and the administration.
Edward Snowden remains in an international transit zone in a Moscow airport since his arrival from Hong Kong. He is wanted by the U.S. and has appealed to several nations for asylum, including Russia, but has been stripped of his U.S. passport, limiting his ability to travel.
News outlets in Europe report Snorre Valen, deputy chair of the Norwegian parliament's committee on foreign and domestic affairs, last week nominated both men for the Oslo-based prize. Snowden had previously been nominated by Swedish sociology professor Stefan Svallfors. Mairead Corrigan-Maguire, a Northern Ireland peace activist who won the prize in 1976, had previously nominated Manning.
Valen, who represents the Socialist Left, the fourth-largest political party in Norway, does not necessarily represent the political majority, and in fact his country is among those that have, to date, turned down Snowden's request for asylum. His position however underscores a noticeable and growing level of support for the two men.
The India-based Business Standard reports that "thousands of people" demonstrated in the streets in German cities on Saturday to protest reports of the U.S. spying on European nations and to voice support for Snowden. The largest demonstration was of about 1,000 people in Frankfurt, the report said.
Within the U.S., the imprisonment and prosecution of Manning and the attempt to extradite and arrest Snowden have proven polarizing. While the administration has broad support for the prosecution of both men, a large public following describes them both as "whistle-blowers" -- someone who follows their conscience for the common good, in defiance of authority.
The balance of opinion appears to be fickle. According to a recent ABC-Washington Post poll, 53% of responders feel Snowden should be charged with a crime, while 36% disagree. Only a month ago, a similar poll showed the balance in favor of Snowden, with 48% opposed to him being charged. Small changes in wording among polls produce different results on this issue, showing that regardless of their feelings toward Snowden, suspicions of the government's surveillance efforts remain high.
Valen cited as a service Snowden's revelation of the "magnitude of surveillance that we are subjected to in the name of the 'war on terror'." He also implicitly acknowledged the U.S.'s attempts to bring Snowden to trial, but said the Geneva Convention "gives everyone the right to say no to following orders when it contradicts their own conscience."