OSLO — A Norwegian television station predicted on Thursday night that the Nobel Peace Prize would most likely go to a Chinese dissident.
Norwegian commercial television Channel 2, which correctly predicted the long-shot award to US President Barack Obama last year, put jailed democracy activist Liu Xiaobo at the top of its list for likely Peace Prize winners.
"The most likely (choice) will probably be an imprisoned dissident in China," the network said in a news report.
Meanwhile, the president of the committee, Thorbjoern Jagland, told another Norwegian network that for him, the choice of Peace Prize laureate became clear quite early in the process.
"We didn't set out to do the same thing as we did a year ago, but I think that it will also be a very interesting prize, one that can influence the agenda of the day," he told the television station NRK.
Liu is in prison for helping to organise and disseminate a document called Charter 08, which called for sweeping political reforms including the freedom of assembly, freedom of expression, and freedom of religion.
He was one of the original 300 signatories of the document, but was detained on December 8 2008, just two days before the document was to be released, and sentenced to 11 years in prison in 2009.
He was convicted of activities "aimed at subversion of the government and overthrowing of the socialist system," according to Human Rights Watch.
The same network also short-listed Afghan doctor and women's rights activist Sima Samar, champion of China's Uighur minority Rebiya Kadeer, and Myanmar's broadcaster-in-exile the Democratic Voice of Burma.
The station also said that the prize could go to the European Union, as an organisation that has furthered the cause of unity and peace.
Many Nobel-watchers are predicting that this will be the year that the Nobel Committee tempts the wrath of China by recognising someone in the pro-democracy movement.
The Chinese government has often warned the committee that granting the Peace Prize to dissidents would strain relations between China and Norway, and this rebuke was issued most recently in September pertaining specifically to Liu.
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