BRUSSELS, October 1 (RIA Novosti) - Fugitive US intelligence leaker Edward Snowden has been included in a short list for the prestigious Sakharov Prize celebrating freedom of thought, the European Parliament announced.
European lawmakers cast their votes for nominees in the short list in a secret ballot on Monday. The list also includes three jailed Belarusian dissidents and Pakistani education activist Malala Yousafzai, who is widely regarded as the favorite to win the prize.
Snowden, a computer specialist and former employee of the US National Security Agency (NSA), was the focus of international attention over the summer after he leaked classified evidence of US government surveillance programs to the media. He fled to Hong Kong and then to Moscow, where he was granted temporary asylum in Russia in late July despite repeated extradition demands from Washington.
Snowden has been nominated by the Greens and the leftist GUE/NGL group in the European Parliament.
Parliament leaders will announce the winner on October 10, and the awards ceremony will take place in Strasbourg in December.
The 50,000 euros ($65,000) prize, named after Soviet scientist and dissident Andrei Sakharov, is awarded by the European Parliament every year since 1988 to honor champions of human rights and freedom of expression.
Past recipients include anti-apartheid revolutionary and former South African president Nelson Mandela, Chinese dissident Hu Jia, and Reporters Without Borders, a France-based NGO that advocates freedom of the press.