U.S. whistleblower Edward Snowden will be among the people considered this year for the European Parliament’s Sakharov Prize — raising the spectre of further tensions between the United States and the European Union over Snowden’s spying revelations.
The far-left GUE/NGL political group announced on Wednesday that it would nominate Mr. Snowden for the prize, which the parliament awards annually to honour individuals who “combat intolerance, fanaticism and oppression.” Its past recipients have included the likes of former South African president Nelson Mandela and Myanmar opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi.
“Edward Snowden risked his life to confirm what we had long suspected regarding mass online surveillance, a major scandal of our times,” the GUE/NGL group said in a statement. “He revealed details of violations of E.U. data protection law and fundamental rights.”
U.S. officials see things differently, however. They had sought to have Mr. Snowden sent home to face espionage charges linked to his revelations of wide-scale electronic surveillance programmes by U.S. spy agencies. Instead, Russia granted him temporary asylum.
Privacy-conscious Europe has been outraged by the information leaked by Mr. Snowden, which suggested that its citizens and institutions may have been spied on by the U.S., a supposed ally.
Sakharov nominees can be proposed by the European Parliament’s political groups or by factions of at least 40 EU parliamentarians.
The winner of the 2013 prize is expected to be chosen in October.
The award, named after Soviet dissident Andrei Sakharov, has been handed out by the parliament since 1988.