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(RNN) – Exiled Former National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden, who remains in Russia after fleeing charges of espionage and theft in the U.S., has been nominated for a freedom award by European politicians.
"Through his action, Mr. Snowden revealed systematic and widespread violation of fundamental rights, notably freedom of expression and the right to privacy... and triggered a ground-breaking, global debate on issues of mass surveillance, government secrecy and information privacy," the nomination stated.
Snowden, one of seven nominees, would be the first American to win the award. Other nominees include the CNN Freedom Project: Ending Modern-Day Slavery; and Malala Yousafzi of Pakistan. Yousafzi is the outspoken Pakistani schoolgirl who survived an assassination attempt by the Taliban after speaking out against the terrorist group's ban of girls going to school.
Past winners include former South African President Nelson Mandela and 2011 Arab spring activists. Mandela was the first winner of the award in 1988.
The award was named after Russian physicist and 1975 Nobel Peace Prize winner Andrei Dmitrievich Sakharov, who is known as the "father of the Soviet hydrogen bomb." His Nobel Prize came after the former USSR called him a "subversive dissident" because he fought for the human rights of political victims.
The prize for the award is 50,000 Euros, or $65,000, and will be announced on Oct. 10.
Snowden still remains in Russia, living "under guard" in an unknown location, according to The Guardian. Snowden is wanted by the United States after leaking top-secret government documents to The Guardian in June.
Snowden gathered the documents, involving the collection of phone and email data, while working as a security contractor with NSA. He initially fled to Hong Kong after leaving the U.S., and later went to Russia, where he has remained until being granted temporary asylum on Aug. 1.