A Norwegian parliamentarian has nominated Wikileaks founder Julian Assange for the 2011 Nobel Peace Prize, saying his publication of thousands of secret government documents has helped to promote human rights, democracy and freedom of speech.
Snorre Valen, 24, a member of the country's Socialist Left Party, announced his submission to the Nobel Committee Wednesday on his blog.
"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 said.
"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."
Valen acknowledged the controversy surrounding Wikileaks' actions but insisted the whistleblower organization was working for the public interest.
The Norwegian Nobel Committee declined to comment on Valen's nomination of Assange or on any other potential nominations submitted ahead of Tuesday's deadline. The group's website noted it receives more than 200 nominations per year.
Typically, candidates for the prize are kept secret for 50 years unless the nominator makes his or her pick known. Only a select group of government officials and members of academia can propose candidates for the award, according to committee rules.
Assange is accused of sexually assaulting two women in Sweden and was jailed late last year in Britain. He later was released on bond while his case is pending.
He also has been under investigation by U.S. authorities and faces possible charges for his role in Wikileaks' release of classified U.S. documents.
Awarding Assange the prize would be a controversial move by the Nobel Committee, but not unprecedented. The organization drew consternation from China over awarding the 2010 Nobel Peace Prize to human rights activist Liu Xiaobo, and created an international stir in 2009 when it gave the prize to President Obama just months after he had taken office.
Julian Assange for Peace Prize?
Kristian Harpsviken, director of the Peace Research Institute Oslo and an expert on the Nobel Prize, said he doesn't believe Assange is a strong candidate.
"The reason I think it's unlikely is that there has been so much criticism of WikiLeaks, not least how they have handled identification issues of people in the documents,'' he told the Associated Press. "I don't think it quite does the trick.''
The Nobel committee will announce the next Peace Prize winner in October and formally present a medal and $1.6 million award to the laureate in a December ceremony.