BRUSSELS — Fugitive U.S. intelligence leaker Edward Snowden has been included on the shortlist for the prestigious Sakharov prize celebrating freedom of thought, the European Parliament said.
European lawmakers cast their votes for nominees in the short list in a secret ballot on Monday. The list also includes three jailed Belarussian dissidents and Pakistani education activist Malala Yousafzai, who is widely regarded as the favorite to win the prize.
Snowden, a computer specialist and former National Security Agency contractor, was the focus of international attention over the summer after he leaked classified evidence of U.S. 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 Oct. 10, and the awards ceremony will take place in Strasbourg in December.
The $65,000 prize, named after Soviet scientist and dissident Andrei Sakharov, has been 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 nongovernmental organization that advocates freedom of the press.