Snowden doesn’t deserve Nobel Peace Prize

Last Wednesday, Norwegian lawmakers Baard Vegar Solhjell and Snorre Valen nominated former CIA and National Security Agency employee Edward Snowden for the Nobel Peace Prize for his disclosures about the government spy program, according to the Guardian.

Mollie Berg and Matt Burke | Daily Trojan

Mollie Berg and Matt Burke | Daily Trojan


Given the caliber of previous recipients, it is surprising to see Snowden equated with honorable figures such as Martin Luther King Jr., Nelson Mandela and President Barack Obama. Though supporters of the nomination argue that Snowden’s actions led to a vital dialogue about trust and security, Snowden’s actions were anything but peaceful.

The Nobel Peace Prize has honored 126 Laureates since its initiation in 1901, according to its official website. In his will, Alfred Nobel dictated the broad criteria by which nominations would henceforth be made, highlighting that the Peace Prize should be awarded to “the person who shall have done the most or the best work for fraternity between nations, for the abolition or reduction of standing armies and for the holding and promotion of peace congresses.”

Let’s consider more closely the reasons for which Snowden’s nomination stands. Undoubtedly, Snowden’s NSA revelations resulted in a much-needed inspection of the nation’s mass surveillance program. The manner in which this discussion was accomplished, however, was neither efficient nor in the public’s best interest. It stems back to the central controversy of the issue — the fundamental balance between privacy and protection, and to what extent the government is able to work in the name of the greater good.

Still, the root of the concern might be the insecurity we feel as a generation. In an age when everything is electronic, social media users are constantly putting information, often of a very sensitive nature, onto the World Wide Web. With boundaries more blurred than ever, it’s understandable that the nation would panic at the thought of any personal data being compromised, when in reality, we are the cause of the issue.

According to the Washington Post’s foreign affairs blogger Max Fisher, the root of the controversy can divide Americans into multiple distinct camps. One camp views Snowden as a traitor who revealed sensitive information regarding the United States’ programs — revelations that have since resulted in serious negative political issues with foreign countries, allies and adversaries alike.

On the other hand, revealing the nature of these programs permits a second group of Americans to view him as a hero, resulting in a greater need to question the actions that the government is allowed to take. Though both viewpoints are understandable, the fact remains that there’s merit to both. As a journalist, or self-proclaimed advocate for the truth, he had the responsibility to consider the effect of his actions before revealing such vital information. Charged as he is with a violation of the Espionage Act, he should be able to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that he was acting in the best interest of the public. Given the stark differences in opinions, that is very unlikely. He should have known better.

Bringing important ethical issues into an international spotlight is no small feat, but the manner in which Snowden did so, if not purely wrong and reckless, is surely not worthy of recognition by such a high honor. Perhaps, in time, his actions will be viewed as justifiable. But regardless of the ends, if the means are questionable, they certainly aren’t worthy of the Nobel Peace Prize.


Arshya Gurbani is a senior majoring in biological sciences.

5 replies
  1. Bobby
    Bobby says:

    Given the foreign policy blunders that occurred under the Bush administration, I think that the NPP was given to President Obama because the international community’s image of the United States was at an all time low. With regards to Snowden, I agree with the author of this article. After the events of 9/11, I feel for the most part that the actions of the NSA are necessary to combat terrorism and other threats both domestic and foreign. To leak millions of documents that pertain to national security and then to seek asylum in a country that already has complicated relations with the United States makes one traitor not a hero. If another 9/11 happened in the near future, those in the intelligence community will be the first to be blamed for “not doing enough”. Comparing Snowden to the figures like Dr. King and Nelson Mandela would be irresponsible. There are legal protections to protect “whistleblowers”, protections that Snowden should have considered. At the end of the day, this man is not a hero but rather a big gossip that has made America more prone to security threats.

  2. Adam
    Adam says:

    Stick to bio, please.

    How else would we have found out about this?

    And listing President Obama as an honorable figure is debatable, to say the least.

    • Lynn Autumn
      Lynn Autumn says:

      Snowden deserves the prize, in my eyes. When corruption of authority is exposed, in this case violating our inalienable rights of privacy, the whistleblowers and watchdogs will ALWAYS be declared to be reckless and irresponsible. Because the hierarchy of power seeks to keep the status quo in tact, and doesn’t want to be disturbed.

      To quote: Rick Falkvinge, the founder of the first Pirate Party, which campaigns for sensible information policy:

      “Manning’s revelations to the world, made at great sacrifice, spurred democratic movements in many repressed countries. Snowden’s revelations made it possible to have a meaningful debate about the balance between national security and individual liberty.

      But I’d argue that the reasons for giving the Peace Prize to Snowden and Manning go deeper, much deeper, than the individual sacrifice coupled with the immediate and profound global results.

      Courage and transparency both make wars impossible

      First, courage. The ability to wage war hinges on military leaders’ ability to make soldiers – often drafted, non-consenting soldiers – kill other people without having the ability to refuse, under threat of getting killed themselves. In many wars, there have been heroes who have shown courage to defy such orders. We typically celebrate them. When those heroes become many, the war effort fails as a whole – and that’s why they are usually singled out for brutal, disproportional, and harsh punishment, in attempts to prevent the spread of courage and morality among the soldiers.

      Both Snowden and Manning have shown exemplary and outstanding courage in defying military and paramilitary power structures for the greater good of humanity.”

  3. Thekatman
    Thekatman says:

    Interesting that you are equating Barack Hussein Obama with Mandela and King as worthy recipients of the Nobel Peace Prize. Obama has not done anything in his life to warrant this award. I’m defending Snowdon, but you justification that. Obama was a better candidate thanSnowden is wrong.

    What snowden did was, to some degree, a traitorous act, but on the other hand, he made public the NSA’s unconsitutional abuse of power, and the NSa is run from the White House.

    I have never understood why Obama was awarded the NPP because when it was awarded he had accomplished absolutely nothing to promote peace in the world, and today, he is still afailure. But then again, you may also agree that Arafat deserved it to, yet he was a terrorist.

  4. Liberty Minded
    Liberty Minded says:

    Look at the results, are the hostile nations of the earth launching new wars since Edward Snowden started his crusade against illegal, unsavory, secret government surveillance?There may be tension between the nations, but that was already there – only hidden. Now the population of the world knows what the nations’ security forces are doing. The more we know about the rulers the better we can watch them and keep them from launching illegal wars.

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