Nobel laureates to collect awards amid heightened security

Reuters News
Posted: Dec 10, 2015 2:23 AM

By Gwladys Fouche and Johan Ahlander

OSLO/STOCKHOLM (Reuters) - This year's Nobel laureates, including a pro-democracy Tunisian group, will get their prizes on Thursday in Oslo and Stockholm, with security at the lavish banquets and concerts tightened after the Paris attacks last month.

Tunisia's National Dialogue Quartet won the peace prize for helping to build democracy in the birthplace of the Arab Spring, an example of peaceful transition in a region struggling with violence and upheaval.

"Security is higher than it would otherwise have been because of the situation in Europe," Johan Fredriksen, chief of staff for Oslo police told Reuters.

Fredriksen declined to go into specifics. He said there were no specific threats the police were aware of in Norway.

Last year, a demonstrator carrying a Mexican flag disrupted the Nobel ceremony at Oslo City Hall when Pakistani teenager Malala Yousafzai and Indian activist Kailash Satyarthi received their Nobel Peace Prizes. He was not a guest but managed to get through the security checkpoints.

The quartet of the Tunisian General Labour Union, the Tunisian Confederation of Industry, Trade and Handicrafts, the Tunisian Human Rights League and the Tunisian Order of Lawyers was formed in the summer of 2013.

With a new constitution, free elections and a compromise between Islamist and secular leaders, Tunisia has been held up as a model of how to make the transition to a democracy from dictatorship.

In neighboring Sweden, the Nobel Prize winners in literature, chemistry, physics, medicine and economics were gathering in Stockholm to receive their prizes from the King of Sweden later in the day.

Belarussian author Svetlana Alexievich won the literature prize for her portrayal of the harshness of life in the Soviet Union. In her first public statement after winning the prize, she denounced Russia's intervention in Ukraine as an "invasion".

In Stockholm, the winners will collect their medals at a concert hall before attending a banquet at the city hall, which will include VIPs like European Central Bank President Mario Draghi.

Security around the festivities - which has hundreds of royals and prominent politicians as guests - has also been heightened this year after Sweden raised its terror threat level to the highest ever after the Paris attacks.

Each of the prizes is worth 8 million Swedish crowns ($949,440).

(Writing by Alistair Scrutton; Editing by Larry King)