By EDRi

On 10 October 2013, the winner of the Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought will be announced by the Conference of Presidents, as chosen by members of three committees of the European Parliament (AFET, DEVE and DROI).

The Prize, bearing the name of the 1975 Nobel Peace Prize winner Andrei Sakharov, has been awarded every year since 1988 to individuals and organisations for efforts in defending human rights and freedom of expression.

Edward Snowden, the former US National Security Agency (NSA) contractor and whistleblower, has been nominated and shortlisted for the award, for his exposure of the vast state sponsored surveillance programme, known as PRISM, affecting millions of people around the world, including foreign presidents, companies and even EU institutions.

EDRi, together with other 22 European non-governmental organisations protecting fundamental rights, including the freedom of expression and information, have sent a letter to the Conference of Presidents of the European Parliament to support the selection of Edward Snowden for the Sakharov Prize: “Edward Snowden’s recent disclosures have triggered a necessary and long-overdue public debate in the United States and beyond about the acceptable boundaries of surveillance in a democratic state and about the legitimacy and proportionality of counter-terrorism intelligence activities. The revelations also have prompted debates in the European Union.”

The signatories of the letter consider that awarding the Prize to Snowden “would give a clear signal to the world that the EU values and protects those who are attacked for speaking out on violations of human rights.“

"So far Edward Snowden has received neither recognition for his courageous deeds nor support from the European Union collectively, from any individual Member State or from any single European institution.

As European citizens we believe that the Sakharov Prize would be the best way to change this undesirable state of affairs. Therefore we strongly encourage you to award the Sakharov Prize to Edward Snowden in honour of his courage and commitment to values that the Prize represents.”

Open letter by 23 European organisations in support of Snowden’s nomination for the Sakharov prize (9.10.2013)
http://www.edri.org/snowden-sakharov

From Sakharov to Snowden: Why Edward Snowden should receive the 2013 Sakharov Prize (26.09.2013)
http://www.article19.org/join-the-debate.php/111/view/

Eben Moglen supports Snowden for Sakharov Prize (6.09.2013)
http://vimeo.com/76264658

Edward Snowden shortlisted for EU’s Sakharov prize (1.10.2013)
http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-24347225