Former National Security Agency contractor turned whistleblower Edward Snowden is in top running for the Sakharov Prize, a prestigious human rights award handed out by the European Parliament and whose past recipients include Nelson Mandela and Aung San Suu Kyi.
Snowden, currently living in Russia with temporary asylum status, was nominated for the honor by the European Green Party.
"Edward Snowden has risked his freedom to help us protect ours and he deserves to be honored for shedding light on the systematic infringements of civil liberties by U.S. and European secret services," declared Rebecca Harms and Dany Cohn-Bendit, leaders of the left-leaning Greens, in a statement reported by Reuters.
Snowden is a former NSA contractor who revealed thousands of documents exposing a series of secret U.S. surveillance programs which exposed a global network by which the U.S. intelligence apparatus—sometimes in collaboration with allied agencies in the U.K., Israel, and elsewhere—is collecting and monitoring vast troves of online and telephonic data from people in the U.S. and across the globe.
Despite the Obama administration's efforts to capture Snowden and charge him under the Espionage Act for his disclosures, Snowden has faced a flood of international support, including a nomination for the Nobel Peace Prize and receipt of the prestigious German whistleblower prize.