Edward Snowden has won the 2014 Right Livelihood Award, described as Sweden’s “alternative Nobel Prize”.
The fugitive US intelligence leaker splits the honorary award with Alan Rusbridger, editor of UK newspaper The Guardian, which wrote extensively on government surveillance, based on his leaks.
Cash prizes went to three activists from Pakistan, Sri Lanka and the US.
Edward Snowden’s award seems to have caused embarrassment in Sweden.
It was due to be announced on September 25, at the Swedish foreign ministry in Stockholm, but this year the organizers were denied access and news of the laureates was leaked a day early to Swedish public broadcaster SVT.
Edward Snowden has won the 2014 Right Livelihood Award (photo The Guardian)
The prize was awarded to Edward Snowden for “his courage and skill in revealing the unprecedented extent of state surveillance violating basic democratic processes and constitutional rights”.
Alan Rusbridger was honored for “building a global media organization dedicated to responsible journalism in the public interest, undaunted by the challenges of exposing corporate and government malpractices”.
The three men sharing the cash prize of 1.5 million kronor ($210,000) are Pakistani human rights activist Asma Jahangir, Sri Lankan-born Basil Fernando of the Asian Human Rights Commission and US environmentalist Bill McKibben.
The Right Livelihood Award has previously been awarded to such people as Chinese solar power pioneer Huang Ming (2011) and a group of Israeli doctors who worked in the occupied Palestinian territories (2010).
Edward Snowden has settled in Russia since fleeing the US last year, when he leaked secret documents belonging to the National Security Agency (NSA) to The Guardian and other media.
Guardian’s editor Alan Rusbridger revealed only 1% of files leaked by Edward Snowden have been published.
Alan Rusbridger told the Home Affairs Select Committee in UK parliament that the Guardian was not a “rogue newspaper”.
He insisted the paper’s journalists were “patriots” and patriotic about democracy and a free press.
Alan Rusbridger said senior officials in Whitehall and the US administration had told the paper “no damage” had been caused.
Last month intelligence chiefs used their appearance before a different committee to criticize the Guardian, suggesting it had endangered national security.
However, Alan Rusbridger said their accusations were “very vague and not rooted in specific stories”.
“There are different views about this,” he said.
Alan Rusbridger revealed only 1 percent of files leaked by Edward Snowden have been published
“It’s impossible to assess because no one has given me specific evidence.”
He added: “There are countries – and they are not generally democracies – where the press are not free to write about this and where the security services do tell editors what to write.
“That’s not the country we live in, in Britain, and it’s one of the things we love about the country.”
The Guardian editor said the paper had “made very selective judgments”‘ about what to publish and had not revealed the names of any officials.
He said the files taken by Edward Snowden, a former contractor with the National Security Agency (NSA) were in four locations – with The Guardian and the Washington Post newspapers, as well as in Rio de Janeiro and Germany.
Alan Rusbridger said editors of “leading” newspapers had also decided to publish details in the NSA files.