The newspaper that broke the National Security Agency's extensive surveillance activities is now asking its online readers to cast their vote for the person they think deserves the Nobel Peace Prize.
Of course, their vote doesn’t count for the actual prize, which will be announced Friday, but it's interesting to see who readers of Britain's Guardian newspaper -- which has a reputation for being liberal -- believe is worthy.
As of Wednesday, the person winning in the unofficial online survey was none other than Iranian President Hassan Rouhani, who had secured 74 percent of the vote. Other candidates include Dennis Rodman for his visits to North Korea; Chelsea Manning, formerly known as Bradley Manning, the U.S. soldier convicted of violating the Espionage Act; NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden; and Greenpeace.
While Rouhani was nominated by the paper’s Iran reporter Saeed Kamali Dehghan, the winner from among reader-nominated candidates was Snowden, who at 37 percent was barely ahead of Greenpeace. Here's what the poll looked like as of this writing:
Rouhani appeared to be crushing the competition, securing five times the votes of the next in line from among reporter-nominated candidates which is Malala Yousafzai, who as of this writing received 15 percent of the vote. Yousafzai is the teenage girl who was shot in the head by the Taliban opposing her girls’ education campaign in Pakistan.
Iran’s Press TV wrote, “Rouhani is being lauded for his recent overture, calling for the establishment of ties with the West based on mutual respect and understanding.”
The Tehran Times added, “Rouhani, who won the Iranian presidential election in June, started a new chapter in relations with the West with his speech at the annual session of the UN General Assembly in New York in the last week of September.”
Describing his reason for nominating Rouhani, the Guardian’s Iran correspondent Dehghan said: “Hassan Rouhani, the moderate Iranian cleric whose sensational victory in Iran's June election took many by surprise, might not be the perfect reformer. But as an ultimate insider who enjoys backing both from the country's supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, and its reform-seeking critics, like the Green Movement, can be best positioned to find a way out of current stalemate with Iran.”
Explaining why he thinks a Nobel prize will help Rouhani “bring moderation back to Iran,” Dehghan added, “He has already brought encouraging changes, not least putting an end to the embarrassment of the Ahmadinejad years, starting a new chapter for improved relations with the west, securing the release of a number of political prisoners and increasing hopes for the release of opposition leaders under house arrest…”
“Above all, Rouhani showed his potential last week with the promising developments during in New York and broke the 34-year-long taboo of direct talks with the US,” he said.
Of Rodman, the Guardian noted, “A rank outsider, yes, a clown and a maverick for sure – and not nearly as dignified as the other names on this list.”
“Rodman's trips to North Korea have been bizarre and often a bit silly. But he's opened up a channel where none existed before,” it added.
TheBlaze's Jonathon M. Seidl contributed to this report.