WikiLeaks has been nominated for the 2011 Nobel Peace Prize. A Norwegian lawmaker says the website's disclosures of classified documents promote world peace.
WikiLeaks is a website that anonymously publishes documents, such as U.S. war logs from Iraq and Afghanistan. Supporters say it promotes transparency and democracy; critics say it threatens global security.
The man who nominated WikiLeaks is Snorre Valen, 26, a Norwegian politician. After casting his vote, he wrote on his online blog that WikiLeaks has exposed corruption, war crimes and torture around the world.
He compared what he called WikiLeaks’ battle for human rights and democracy with that of last year’s Nobel Prize winner, Chinese dissident Liu Xiaobo.
A WikiLeaks spokesperson has said the nomination is a "gratifying surprise”.
Nobel-watcher not surprised
"WikiLeaks has been on top of the international news headlines for the last 12 months," he said. "It is also something very new in more ways than just bringing interesting news. It is, in fact, newsworthy in and of itself as a phenomenon. It is an interesting and many ways challenging candidate in its own right."
A wide range of people are invited to make a peace prize nomination, including politicians, professors, and former laureates.
Harpviken says he thinks it is unlikely that WikiLeaks will win the prize, in part because its critics say the information it has leaked could have put lives at risk.
He says it would be a controversial choice.
"Such a prize would also be most unpopular in certain circles at the right side of the Republican Party in particular, where several individuals have not only seen WikiLeaks and Julian Assange as criminals, but, in fact, have metaphorically equaled them to terrorists," said Harpviken. "So of course it is clear that a prize to WikiLeaks would not be looked upon lightly in those quarters."
But the Nobel Committee is not known for shying from controversy. In 2009 it awarded the Peace Prize to U.S. President Barack Obama and in 2010 to the Chinese dissident Liu Xiaobo - both were divisive choices.
"I do not think the Nobel Committee sees it as a value in its own right to play with controversy, but certainly many prizes have been controversial," said Harpviken. "And the Nobel Peace Prize has always been most interesting when it has been making a firm political statement."
The Peace Prize winner will be announced in October.