Snowden nominated for EU's freedom of thought prize

Sept. 11, 2013 at 3:18 PM

BRUSSELS, Sept. 11 (UPI) -- Some European Parliament members want fugitive U.S. secrets leaker Edward Snowden honored for advancing freedom of thought, an official said Wednesday.

Christian Engstrom, a member of the Swedish Pirate Party that was one of the groups that nominated Snowden, said Snowden should receive the Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought because of his "heroic" actions in revealing the United States' extensive intelligence-gathering operations, RIA Novosti reported.

The former U.S. National Security Agency contractor is "paying a heavy personal price," Engstrom said in a personal blog. "Governments that dare to offer him asylum are threatened with dire consequences by the U.S. government."

He noted it was "a painful irony" Snowden had been granted asylum in Russia, "a country with democratic problems and authoritarian tendencies."

Alexander Sidyakin, a member of the Russian parliament's lower house, proposed Snowden for the prize in July.

The European United Left/Nordic Green Left also nominated Snowden. "Whistle-blowers cannot be treated like criminals. They must have our protection," the group said on its website in June.

The Sakharov Prize is given to individuals or organizations for their work in the defense of human rights and freedom of thought. Past recipients include former South African president Nelson Mandela, Chinese dissident Hu Jia and Reporters Without Borders.

A monetary award of $66,471 accompanies the prize.

The winner will be named in October.

Like Us on Facebook for more stories from UPI.com  
Related UPI Stories
Latest Headlines
Top Stories
Wisconsin's Walker in hot seat over open-records restrictions
Putin congratulates U.S. on Independence Day
Greek economy reaches low point on eve of referendum
9 injured when fireworks explode in crowd
Reddit moderators revolt after popular employee dismissed