BRUSSELS, Oct. 26 (UPI) -- The European Union gave its most prestigious human rights award to two imprisoned Iranians, lawyer Nasrin Sotoudeh and filmmaker Jafar Panahi.
The Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought was awarded Friday as "recognition to a woman and a man who have not been bowed by fear and intimidation and who have decided to put the fate of their country before their own," said European Parliament president Martin Schulz in a statement. The Prize includes an award of 50,000 Euros ($65,000).
Sotoudeh, 49, is serving a 6-year prison sentence in Iran for her propaganda actions against the government. Panahi, 52, was sentenced in 2010 to a 6-year prison term for his involvement in the opposition movement after Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's disputed presidential election victory.
The awards come at a time of deepening tensions between Iran and Europe. In July the European Union began a boycott of Iranian oil and terminated access by Iranian state radio and television to European broadcasting satellites, the New York Times reported.