Nelson Mandela, the Arab Spring activists and . . . Edward Snowden. In 10 days, they could share space on a prestigious list assembled by the European Parliament honoring those “who combat fanaticism, intolerance or oppression.”
The first two are past winners of the Parliament’s top human rights award, the Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought. The third is a fugitive former National Security Agency contractor who’s been charged with espionage by the United States but is seen by a hero by Europe’s political left, and who has now been named a finalist for this year’s Sakharov award.
Snowden, 30, leaked classified documents about the NSA’s surveillance programs that sweep up information about millions of online and telephone communications. The documents he shared with newspapers in Great Britain, the United States and Brazil resulted in revelations that infuriated and embarrassed politicians worldwide and set off a congressional rebellion in Washington over the programs, which previously had been among the U.S. government’s most closely held secrets.
Snowden famously spent more than a month this summer in the international transit lounge of Moscow’s Sheremetyevo Airport, before being granted asylum in Russia, where he remains.