STOCKHOLM, Sweden – Nobel literature laureate Harold Pinter slammed President Bush and British Prime Minister Tony Blair in his prize acceptance speech, saying the two leaders should be prosecuted for the invasion of Iraq.
In a prerecorded lecture presented at the Swedish Academy in Stockholm on Wednesday, the British playwright said Bush and Blair should be arraigned before the International Criminal Court.
"The invasion of Iraq was a bandit act, an act of blatant state terrorism, demonstrating absolute contempt for the concept of international law," said Pinter, known for his outspoken criticism of U.S. foreign policy.
Pinter, who has been treated for cancer in recent years, was supposed to have delivered the traditional Nobel lecture in person, but was forced to cancel his trip to Sweden because of poor health.
His publisher, Stephen Page, will accept the prestigious prize on Pinter's behalf at the award ceremony on Saturday.
In his lecture, which focused more on politics than literature, Pinter launched a ferocious tirade against Bush and Blair, saying they were responsible for tens of thousands of deaths in the Iraq war.
"How many people do you have to kill before you qualify to be described as a mass murderer and a war criminal? One hundred thousand?" he asked in a hoarse voice.
"We have brought torture, cluster bombs, depleted uranium, innumerable acts of random murder, misery, degradation and death to the Iraqi people and call it 'bringing freedom and democracy to the Middle East,'" Pinter said.
The Nobel committee has not shied from rewarding writers who make a stand against authority, notably in rewarding the literature prize to Soviet dissident Alexander Solzhenitsyn in 1970.
Horace Engdahl, the permanent secretary of the Swedish Academy, introduced the lecture by saying Pinter was delivering "his free words such as a writer has a right to say them."
Pinter accused the United States of supporting "every right wing military dictatorship in the world" after World War II, from Chile to the Philippines.
"The crimes of the United States have been systematic, constant, vicious, remorseless, but very few people have actually talked about them," he said. "It has exercised a quite clinical manipulation of power worldwide while masquerading as a force for universal good. It's a brilliant, even witty, highly successful act of hypnosis."
Pinter said the U.S. "also has its own bleating little lamb tagging behind it on a lead, the pathetic and supine Great Britain."
He said both Bush and Blair deserve to be arraigned by the Hague, Netherlands-based International Criminal Court.
The U.S. has not ratified the court, but Britain has, Pinter noted, urging court officials to look for Blair at his home.
"We can let the Court have his address if they're interested. It is Number 10, Downing Street, London," he said.
The International Criminal Court is extremely unlikely to prosecute Blair because it is a court of last resort that will intervene only if national authorities are unwilling or unable to prosecute war crimes themselves.
Pinter, 75, looked frail when he spoke to the media after winning the Nobel Prize in October.
In 2002, Pinter, whose works include plays such as "The Caretaker," "The Room," and "The Birthday Party," revealed he was undergoing treatment for throat cancer.