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Fugitive Snowden in running for European rights prize

Fugitive former U.S. spy agency contractor Edward Snowden's new refugee documents granted by Russia is seen during a news conference in Mosc
Fugitive former U.S. spy agency contractor Edward Snowden's new refugee documents granted by Russia is seen during a news conference in Mosc

BRUSSELS (Reuters) - Fugitive U.S. intelligence analyst Edward Snowden is in the running for a European human rights prize whose past winners include Nelson Mandela and Myanmar opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi.

Snowden, who is in hiding in Russia, is one of seven nominations made by members of the European Parliament for the Sakharov Prize for freedom of thought, a move likely to upset Washington which wants to try him on espionage charges.

Snowden was nominated by the Greens in the European Parliament who said he had done an "enormous service" for human rights and European citizens by disclosing secret U.S. Internet and telephone surveillance programs.

"Edward Snowden has risked his freedom to help us protect ours and he deserves to be honored for shedding light on the systematic infringements of civil liberties by U.S. and European secret services," Rebecca Harms and Dany Cohn-Bendit, the leaders of the left-leaning Greens, said in a statement.

Revelations that the U.S. National Security Agency monitors vast quantities of email and telephone data of both Americans and foreigners, and a report that Washington spied on the European Union has caused outrage in European capitals.

The other nominees include Malala Yousafzai, the Pakistani girl shot in the head by the Taliban last year for demanding education for girls, and Russian former oil tycoon Mikhail Khodorkovsky, a critic of President Vladimir Putin who has been convicted of money-laundering, tax evasion and fraud.

The European Parliament's committees vote on a shortlist of three finalists on September 30. The winner will be chosen by parliamentary leaders on October 10.

(Reporting by Adrian Croft; editing by Luke Baker and Elizabeth Piper)

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