OSLO, Feb 1 (Reuters) - Former U.S. spy agency contractor Edward Snowden, peace negotiators in Colombia or Greek islanders helping Syrian refugees were among tips for the 2016 Nobel Peace Prize at the deadline for nominations on Monday.
Nobel watchers also speculated that negotiators of an accord over Iran's nuclear program could be in the running after a surprise award last year to a coalition of Tunisian democracy campaigners, the National Dialogue Quartet.
"2016 may finally be Edward Snowden's year ... His leaks are now having a positive effect," Kristian Berg Harpviken, head of the Peace Research Institute, Oslo, told Reuters, putting him top of his list of candidates.
Harpviken said many nations were now reforming laws to restrict intelligence gathering, helping human rights, in the wake of Snowden's leaks in 2013 of details of the U.S. government's surveillance programs.
Washington has filed espionage charges against Snowden, who has been granted asylum in Russia. An award of the $930,000 prize to Snowden, by a Nobel committee in NATO member Norway, would be a huge snub for President Barack Obama, the 2009 Nobel laureate.
Asle Sveen, an historian and expert on the prize, said he reckoned the "obvious choice" for 2016 would be to honor Colombia's government and FARC rebel group - if they succeed in peace talks launched in 2012 to end five decades of war.
Notable Nobel Peace Prize winners:
Memorable Nobel Peace Prize winners through history
Snowden, Colombia, Greek islanders among Nobel Peace Prize tips
2015 Nobel Peace Prize Tunisian General Labour Union (UGTT)'s secretary general, Houcine Abassi, poses for a photo in Sao Paulo on October 11, 2015. Abassi was awarded the Peace Prize along with the other members of the Tunisian National Dialogue Quartet -Tunisian Confederation of Industry, Trade and Handicrafts (UTICA) Tunisian Human Rights League (LTDH) and Tunisian Order of Lawyers--the Norwegian Nobel Commitee announced, for helping rescue the only democracy that emerged from the Arab Spring, in a hugely symbolic show of support for the country after a wave of jihadist attacks. AFP PHOTO / MIGUELSCHINCARIOL (Photo credit should read Miguel Schincariol/AFP/Getty Images)
President of the Tunisian Human Rights League (LTDH), Abdessattar Ben Moussa, poses for pictures in Tunis on October 9, 2015, after he was awarded the 2015 Nobel Peace Prize with other members of Tunisian National Dialogue Quartet. The Norwegian Nobel Commitee announced that Tunisian mediators of the so called National Dialogue Quartet (Tunisian General Labour Union UGTT, Confederation of Industry, Tunisian Trade and Handicrafts UTICA, Tunisian Human Rights League LTDH and Tunisian Order of Lawyers) won the 2015 Nobel Peace Prize. AFP PHOTO / FETHI BELAID (Photo credit should read FETHI BELAID/AFP/Getty Images)
A combo of pictures taken on October 9, 2015 January 7, 2015 in Tunis shows (LtoR from up) President of the Tunisian employers union (UTICA) Wided Bouchamaoui; Tunisian lawyer Fadhel Mahfoudh; President of the Tunisian Human Rights League (LTDH), Abdessattar ben Moussa and Secretary General of the Tunisian General Labour Union (UGTT) Houcine Abbassi. Tunisian mediators of the socalled National Dialogue Quartet (Tunisian General Labour Union UGTT, Tunisian Confederation of Industry, Trade and Handicrafts UTICA, Tunisian Human Rights League LTDH and Tunisian Order of Lawyers) won the 2015 Nobel Peace Prize, the Norwegian Nobel Commitee announced on October 9, 2015.
AFP PHOTO / FETHI BELAID (Photo credit should read FETHI BELAID/AFP/Getty Images)
FILE - In this Sept. 26, 1944, file photo, Staff Aide Jane Steward, an American Red Cross worker, lights a cigarette for a wounded French gendarme at a U.S. evacuation hospital in Brittany. In 1944, the Red Cross was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for the second time, having also won it in 1917. It then claimed the award for what still is a record third time in 1963. (AP Photo, File)
FILE - In this Dec. 10, 1964 file photo, Dr. Martin Luther King looks at his Nobel Peace Prize in Oslo, Norway. King was recognized for his leadership in the American civil rights movement and for advocating non-violence. (AP Photo, File)
FILE - In this October 16, 1973 file photo, US Secretary of State Henry Kissinger, left, is congratulated by President Richard Nixon in the Oval office of the White House, following the announcement that Kissinger was a joint winner of the 1973 Nobel Peace Prize. Kissinger and North Vietnamese diplomat Lo Duc Tho won the prize for their efforts in ending the Vietnam war, one of the most controversial decisions made in the history of the Nobel Peace Prize. Le Duc Tho declined the award. (AP Photo, File)
FILE - In this March 26, 1979, file photo Egyptian President Anwar Sadat, left, U.S. President Jimmy Carter, center, and Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin clasp hands on the north lawn of the White House after signing the peace treaty between Egypt and Israel. Sadat and Begin were awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1978. Carter received the Nobel Peace Prize himself in 2002 "for his decades of untiring effort to find peaceful solutions to international conflicts." (AP Photo/ Bob Daugherty, File)
FILE - In this 1978, file photo, Mother Teresa, head of the Missionaries of Charity order, cradles an armless baby girl at her order's orphanage in what was then known as Calcutta, India, in 1978. A champion among the poor in India, Mother Teresa received the Nobel Peace Prize for 1979. An Albanian, she went to India in 1928 to teach at a convent school, taking her final vows as a Roman Catholic nun in 1937, and opened her House for the Dying in 1952. (AP Photo/Eddie Adams, File)
FILE - In this June 17, 1983, file photo, Lech Walesa, leader of the former Solidarity Union, reacts to cheers by his fellow workers as he leaves the Lenin Shipyards in Gdansk, Poland. Walesa won the Nobel Peace Prize that year, for his efforts in organizing free trade unions and strikes which symbolized political freedom for Poland, but he did not attend the ceremony. In 1990, Walesa became a freely elected president of Poland. (AP Photo/Langevin, File)
FILE - In this Dec. 10, 1989 file photo, His Holiness the Dalai Lama displays the Nobel Peace Prize and medallion during ceremonies at Oslo University's Avla Hall. The 14th Dalai Lama, Tibet's exiled political and spiritual leader, was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in recognition of his nonviolent campaign to end Chinese domination of Tibet. (AP Photo/Pool, Norwegian News Agency, Inge Gjellesvik, File)
FILE - In this June 5, 1991 file photo, Soviet president Mikhail S. Gorbachev receives applause from the audience in Oslo as he enters the lecture hall to deliver his long-delayed Nobel Peace lecture. Gorbachev, who was awarded the 1990 Nobel Peace Prize, was hugely influential in bringing an end to the Cold War that had persisted since World War II. (AP Photo/Alexander Zemlianichenko, File)
FILE - In this Dec. 10, 1993 file photo, South African Deputy President F.W. de Klerk, right, and South African President Nelson Mandela pose with their Nobel Peace Prize Gold Medals and Diplomas in Oslo. The Nobel Committee praised the pair "for their work for the peaceful termination of the apartheid regime, and for laying the foundations for a new democratic South Africa." (AP Photo/FILE)
FILE - In this Dec. 10, 1994 file photo, PLO leader Yasser Arafat, left, Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin, centre, and Israeli Foreign Minister Shimon Peres pose with their medals and diplomas, after receiving the 1994 Nobel Peace Prize in Oslo's City Hall. The three men received the prize for "for their efforts to create peace in the Middle East." The award was designed to give a boost to peace efforts in the Middle East. It didn't. The process collapsed and Rabin was assassinated the following year by an ultra-nationalist Israeli who opposed his peace moves. (AP Photo, File)
FILE - In this file photo dated Wednesday Dec. 9, 1998, the 1998 Nobel Peace Prize winners John Hume, right, and David Trimble, at the Grand Hotel in Oslo. The Nobel Committee praised the pair "for their efforts to find a peaceful solution to the conflict in Northern Ireland" and their roles in delivering the Good Friday accord earlier in the year. The peace has largely held since. (AP Photo/Jon Eeg, FILE)
FILE - In this Friday, Oct. 15, 1999, file photo, Medecins Sans Frontieres (Doctors Without Borders) International Committee President James Orbinsky, left, and President of MSF-France Philippe Biberson hug at the Paris headquarters after the non-governmental organization was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in recognition for its "pioneering humanitarian work on several continents". (AP Photo/Michel Lipchitz, File)
FILE - In this Thursday, Dec. 10, 2009, file photo, US President Barack Obama speaks at the Nobel Peace Prize ceremony at City Hall in Oslo, Thursday, Dec. 10, 2009. The Nobel Committee awarded the prize to Obama, who only became president in early 2009, "for his extraordinary efforts to strengthen international diplomacy and cooperation between peoples." Obama was the third sitting US president to win the award, following Theodore Roosevelt in 1906 and Woodrow Wilson in 1919. (AP Photo/Odd Andersen, File)
FILE - In this Monday, Dec. 10, 2012 file photo, Poland's Prime Minister Donald Tusk, left, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, center, and French President Francois Hollande applaud during the Nobel Peace Prize ceremony, at the City Hall in Oslo. The European Union received the Nobel Peace Prize for promoting "peace and reconciliation, democracy and human rights" in Europe for six decades following the devastation of World War II. (AP Photo/Yves Logghe, File)
FILE - In this Monday, Dec. 8, 2014 file photo, joint Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai, aged 17, briefly speaks to the media as she arrives at her hotel after flying to Oslo, to receive her award. Malala, who won the prize along with Indian children's rights activist Kailash Satyarti, was the youngest-ever recipient of the award. The Nobel Committee praised the two for "their struggle against the suppression of children and young people and for the right of all children to education." (AP Photo/Matt Dunham, File)
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He noted Norway's government had been involved in organizing peace talks, perhaps swaying the five-member Norwegian Nobel committee which is appointed by parliament. Feb. 1 is the annual deadline for nominations.
Harpviken placed Colombian peace negotiators third on his list, behind U.S. Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz and Ali Akbar Salehi, head of Iran's Atomic Energy Organization, for their role in negotiating a deal last year to limit Iran's nuclear program.
That accord led to a lifting of sanctions by major powers on Tehran last month.
Other candidates include Greek islanders who have helped Syrian and other refugees - a campaign by grassroots group Avaaz has collected 635,000 online signatures for a prize to islanders who "have opened their homes and hearts."
But it could be difficult to identify Greek winners under the plans set out by Alfred Nobel, the Swedish founder of the prize. The award can be split up to three ways, to individuals or organizations.
Sveen said other candidates may include Russian human rights groups such as Memorial, nominated by Norwegian Prime Minister Erna Solberg before she took office in 2013.
"Huge numbers of nominations are still coming in," said Olav Njoelstad, Director of the Norwegian Nobel Institute. The committee will have its first meeting on Feb. 29 and announce the winner in October.
Thousands of people, including members of all national parliaments, former laureates and university rectors, can make nominations. Last year there were 273 nominees.
Harpviken said a U.S. nominator, whom he did not identify, had proposed U.S. Republican presidential front-runner Donald Trump for his "vigorous peace through strength ideology." He did not list Trump among those with a chance of winning.
(Reporting by Alister Doyle; Editing by Mark Potter)