Group petitions for Manning to receive Nobel Peace Prize

A U.S. human rights group on Monday delivered a petition with more than 100,000 signatures urging that this year’s Nobel Peace Prize go to Pfc. Bradley Manning, who was convicted on espionage charges last month for leaking hundreds of thousands of classified documents to WikiLeaks.

Norman Solomon, the co-founder of RootsAction, delivered the petition in Oslo, Norway, on Monday to the research director of the Norwegian Nobel Committee, which awards the Nobel Prizes. 

Solomon said that Manning should receive the prize for exposing government secrecy and wrongdoing in the Iraq War. He argued that the Nobel committee’s selection of Manning for the 2013 Nobel Peace Prize would make up for giving the award to President Obama in 2009.

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“The office of the Nobel Committee is under a war cloud of its own making,” Solomon wrote in a post on the group’s website Monday. “Now, the Nobel Committee and its Peace Prize are in dire need of rehabilitation. In truth, the Nobel Peace Prize needs Bradley Manning much more than the other way around.”

Manning faces up to 90 years in prison after being convicted of five counts of espionage in a military court-martial last month, although he was acquitted of the most serious charge, aiding the enemy.

Asle Toje, the Norwegian Nobel Committee's research director, said Monday that the Nobel Peace Prize is “not a popularity contest.

“A large number of signatures will neither help nor hinder his [Manning's] candidacy," Toje said, according to Reuters.

"It will be reviewed on its merit, based on the principles laid out in the will of Alfred Nobel. It's not unprecedented that we receive a large volume of supporting material for a candidate ... but these do not influence the committee."

Manning was nominated for this year’s prize by Nobel Peace laureate Mairead Corrigan-Maguire, who won the prize in 1977 for her peace efforts in Northern Ireland.

“I can think of no one more deserving,” she wrote in an op-ed in The Guardian explaining her nomination. “His incredible disclosure of secret documents to Wikileaks helped end the Iraq War, and may have helped prevent further conflicts elsewhere.”

This year’s Nobel Peace Prize will be awarded in October.