February 24, 2010

Vanunu: Take me off list of Nobel peace prize nominees - Haaretz - Israel News

Israeli nuclear whistleblower Mordechai Vanunu has again asked to be removed from a list of Nobel Peace Prize nominees, the head of the Oslo-based Norwegian Nobel Institute said Wednesday.

"He has written letters to us this year and last year also, where he stated explicitly that he did not want to be a candidate for the Nobel Peace Prize," Nobel Institute Director Geir Lundestad told the German Press Agency DPA.

Vanunu, a former nuclear technician who was jailed for leaking details of Israel's nuclear program to a British newspaper in 1986, cited that he did not want to be "associated " with Shimon Peres, a former Nobel Peace Prize laureate and current president of Israel.


"The reason he gave was that Shimon Peres had received the Nobel Peace Prize, and Peres he alleged was the father of the Israeli atomic bomb and he did not want to be associated with Peres in any way," Lundestad said.

Vanunu was released from prison in 2004 after serving an 18-year sentence for treason. In a letter published last year he claimed that Peres "was the man who ordered my kidnapping" in Rome in 1986.

Lundestad said it was unusual that potential nominees make such requests, noting that in 1973 Le Duc Tho - North Vietnam's chief negotiator in the armistice talks with the U.S. - declined to accept the prize he shared with his US counterpart, Henry Kissinger.

In 1990, there was also "debate within the Sakharov family" about returning the prize given in 1975 to physicist and human rights Andrei Sakharov when Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev received it, Lundestad added.

The Nobel Institute was set up to assist the five-member Nobel Committee that selects the peace prize, one of several prizes endowed by Swedish industrialist and dynamite inventor Alfred Nobel.

In 2009, the coveted prize was awarded to U.S. President Barack Obama.

A record 205 nominations, including 33 organizations, were made in 2009. Vanunu was one of them. The committee has yet to announce its final tally for 2010 but Lundestad indicated a new record was likely.

The Nobel Committee advises that nominations be kept undisclosed but there are no rules against the procedure allowing plenty of speculation before the announcement, normally in mid-October.

Vanunu: Take me off list of Nobel peace prize nominees - Haaretz - Israel News

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