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Snowden Is A Finalist For A Top Human Rights Award

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Photo by AP

Edward Snowden, seen here in a photo provided by

Edward Snowden, the former NSA contract worker who leaked documents detailing America's secret and broad surveillance activities, is on the short list of nominees for Europe's Sakharov Prize, which recognizes those who fight for human rights.

Other finalists include Malala Yousafzai, the Pakistani schoolgirl who survived being shot in the head, and three political prisoners in Belarus.

Awarded by the European Parliament, the Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought honors "exceptional individuals who combat intolerance, fanaticism and oppression," according to the parliament's website.

"The surveillance of whole populations, rather than individuals, threatens to be the greatest human rights challenge of our time," Snowden said in a statement that was read aloud in the Parliament Monday, The New York Times reports.

Snowden's nomination came from Europe's Green Party and the leftist GUE/NGL group. His name was then chosen as a finalist by two committees. After a final vote, the prize's winner will be announced on Oct. 10. The front-runner is widely seen as Malala Yousafzai, who was nominated by six different parties.

The award is named for Andrei Sakharov, the Russian scientist who won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1975 for his efforts to support human rights and curb the spread of nuclear weapons.

Snowden is currently living in Russia, where he has been granted temporary asylum. U.S. authorities say he is a fugitive, having charged him espionage.

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