European lawmakers have nominated Edward Snowden for the Andrei Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought, the continent’s top human rights award.
Snowden, who was nominated by the European Parliament’s Green bloc and a small left-wing bloc, is one of seven on the long list for the 50,000 euro ($65,000) award, which counts Nelson Mandela and Aung Saan Suu Kyi among its previous winners. Malala Youzafai, the Pakistani schoolgirl and education campaigner shot by the Taliban, and jailed Russian oligarch Mikhail Khodorkovsky are also among the nominees.
“Through his action, Mr Snowden revealed systematic and widespread violation of fundamental rights, notably freedom of expression and the right to privacy, by these spying programmes, and triggered a ground-breaking, global debate on issues of mass surveillance, government secrecy and information privacy,” the nomination says.
“By awarding the Sakharov Prize to Mr Snowden,” it continues, “the Parliament would:
— express support to Mr Snowden in his current ordeal and underline the need for
adequate protection for whistle-blowers and investigative journalists;
— acknowledge that whistle-blowers can have a significant impact on the enjoyment of
human rights by revealing, at their own risk, the truth about unacceptable government
or corporate practice, and thus may be considered as human rights defenders;
— highlight that State surveillance programmes may undermine the right to privacy,
internet freedom and freedom of expression, and that corrective action should be
Snowden, currently in Russia on temporary asylum, would be the first American to win the award, which is named after a famous Soviet nuclear physicist turned dissident. Lawmakers will choose a short list of three nominees in late September and announce the winner Oct. 10.