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.
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.