‘Alternative Nobel Prize’ Laureates Call on Obama to Pardon Edward Snowden

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More than 50 laureates of the Right Livelihood Award have called for the presidential pardon of their fellow laureate Edward Snowden, honored in 2014 for his courage and skill in revealing the unprecedented surveillance programs that violate basic democratic processes and constitutional rights.

Established in Sweden in 1980, the Right Livelihood Award is widely known as the “Alternative Nobel Prize.” The purpose of the award is to honor and support courageous people and organizations offering visionary and exemplary solutions to the root causes of global problems.

“This is about our rights,” Ed said in his acceptance speech. “This is about the kind of societies that we want to live in, the kind of government that we want to have, the kind of world that we want to make for the next generation.”

Surveillance programs “are instituted behind closed doors without our awareness and without our consent,” Ed continued, urging others to ask, “Are these reasonable? Are they necessary? And are they proportionate to the threat that we face?”

Among the Right Livelihood laureates calling on President Obama to pardon Ed are Inge Genefke M.D, who was honored in 1988 for her work on behalf of torture victims; Bill McKibben, honored in 2014 for his ceaseless activism on climate change; Angie Zelter, who received the award in 2001 for her work to oppose nuclear proliferation; and 2006 laureate Dr. Daniel Ellsberg, the former U.S. military analyst who leaked the Pentagon Papers in 1971.

“He has served the public interest,” Ellsberg said of Ed. In light of the disclosures, “I believe he deserves nothing other than acclamation for having fulfilled his oath to support and defend the Constitution,” Ellsberg added.

Roy Takeno (far left), with Yuichi Hirata and Nabou Samamura, read the Los Angeles Times in the Manzanar Relocation Camp in California in 1943. Photograph by Ansel Adams.

As my colleague Noa Yachot points out, Ed’s 2013 warning about America’s sprawling global surveillance architecture now feels similarly and uncomfortably prescient. U.S. President-elect Donald Trump has publicly stated his support for forcing technology companies to undermine the security of their products, “closing up” unspecified “areas” of the internet, and increasing surveillance of Muslim Americans and other “people that have to be tracked,” according to reports. And just yesterday, prominent Trump supporter Carl Higbie cited the unconscionable internment of Japanese Americans during WWII as “precedent” for the treatment of American Muslims. As Justice Robert H. Jackson wrote in dissent in the case upholding internment, the principle “lies about like a loaded weapon ready for the hand of any authority that can bring forward a plausible claim of an urgent need.”

Left unchecked, surveillance has the capacity to enable and magnify all manner of human rights abuses. Ed warned us of this. He deserves awards, not prison.

It is time to bring Ed home.

The laureates calling for Ed’s pardon are:

Swami Agnivesh, India (RLA 2004)

Dr. Martin Almada, Paraguay (RLA 2002)

Uri Avnery, Gush Shalom, Israel (RLA 2001)

Dr. Maude Barlow, Council of Canadians, Canada (RLA 2005)

Nnimmo Bassey, Health of Mother Earth Foundation, Nigeria (RLA 2010)

András Biro, Hungary (RLA 1995)

Prof. Dr. Theo van Boven, Netherlands (RLA 1985)

Dr. Zafrullah Chowdhury, Gonoshasthaya Kendra, Bangladesh (RLA 1992)

Stephen Corry, UK (RLA 1989)

Erik Dammann, Future in Our Hands, Norway (RLA 1982)

Dr. Daniel Ellsberg, USA (RLA 2006)

Prof. Dr. Anwar Fazal, Malaysia (RLA 1982)

Basil Fernando, Asian Human Rights Commission, Hong Kong (RLA 2014)

Fernando Funes, Cuba (RLA 1999)

Professor Johan Galtung, Norway (RLA 1987)

Dr. Juan E. Garcés, Spain (RLA 1999)

Dr. Inge Genefke, Denmark (RLA 1988)

GRAIN, International (RLA 2011)

Scientia Professor Martin A. Green, Australia (RLA 2002)

Dr. Hans Herren, Biovision Foundation, Switzerland (RLA 2013)

Dr. Monika Hauser, Germany (RLA 2008)

IBFAN, Switzerland (RLA 1998)

Bianca Jagger, Nicaragua/UK (RLA 2004)

Bishop Erwin Kräutler, Brazil (RLA 2010)

Ida Kuklina, The Committee of Soldiers' Mothers of Russia, Russia (RLA 1996)

Felicia Langer, Israel (RLA 1990)

Birsel Lemke, Turkey (RLA 2000)

Helen Mack Chang, Fundación Myrna Mack, Guatemala (RLA 1992)

Prof Dr. h.c. (mult.) Manfred Max-Neef, Chile (RLA 1983)

Dr. Ruchama Marton, Physicians for Human Rights, Israel (RLA 2010)

Tapio Mattlar, Finnish Village Action, Finland (RLA 1992)

Bill McKibben, 350.org, USA (RLA 2014)

Prof. Dr. Raúl A. Montenegro, Fundación para la defensa del ambiente, Argentina (RLA 2004)

Frances Moore Lappé, Small Planet Institute, USA (RLA 1987)

Kasha Jacqueline Nabagesera, Uganda (RLA 2015)

Helena Norberg-Hodge, India (RLA 1986)

Juan Pablo Orrego, Ecosistemas, Chile (RLA 1998)

Medha Patkar, India (RLA 1991)

P K Ravindran, Kerala Sastra Sahitya Parishad, India (RLA 1996)

Fernando Rendón, International Poetry Festival of Medellín, Colombia (RLA 2006)

Dr. Vandana Shiva, Navdanya, India (RLA 1993)

Dr. Gino Strada, EMERGENCY, Italy (RLA 2015)

Dr. Michael Succow, Germany (RLA 1997)

Suciwati, widow of Munir, Indonesia (RLA 2000)

Dr. Hanumappa Sudarshan, Karuna Trust & VGKK, India (RLA 1994)

Dr. David Suzuki, Canada (RLA 2009)

Janos Vargha, Duna Kör, Hungary (RLA 1985)

Miladin Vidakovic, Serb Civic Council, Bosnia-Herzegovina (RLA 1995)

Dr. Paul F. Walker, Green Cross International, USA (RLA 2013)

Alyn Ware, New Zealand – Aotearoa (RLA 2009)

Chico Whitaker Ferreira, Brazil (RLA 2006)

Alla Yaroshinskaya, Russia (RLA 1992)

Angie Zelter, Trident Ploughshares, UK (RLA 2001)

posted November 18, 2016 by Geoffrey King

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