- Title: Edward Snowden, possible contender for this year's Nobel Peace Prize.
- Date: 17th September 2019
- Summary: MOSCOW, RUSSIA (FILE - 2013) (REUTERS) VARIOUS EXTERIORS OF KREMLIN
- Embargoed: 1st October 2019 18:48
- Keywords: Edward Snowden NSA The Guardian The Washington Post Barack Obama Donald Trump Russia
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- Country: Various
- Topics: Crime/Law/Justice
- Reuters ID: LVA00CAX2FEBR
- Aspect Ratio: 16:9
- Story Text: EDITORS PLEASE NOTE: THIS EDIT CONTAINS MATERIAL THAT WAS ORIGINALLY 4:3
EDITORS PLEASE NOTE: PART AUDIO AS INCOMING
Fugitive former U.S. intelligence analyst Edward Snowden is a likely contender for the 2019 Nobel Peace Prize.
Snowden is on the run from U.S. authorities after disclosing secret National Security Agency (NSA) programmes involving the collection of telephone and email data, to media outlets, including 'The Guardian' and 'The Washington Post'.
As an ex-CIA employee working as a contractor at the NSA, Snowden copied secret documents at the NSA office in Hawaii and told his supervisor he needed "a couple of weeks" off for treatment for epilepsy. On May 20, 2013 he flew to Hong Kong where he went public with the information.
Both "The Guardian" and "The Washington Post" published Snowden's revelations which showed that U.S. security services had monitored phone call data from Verizon and Internet data from large companies such as Google and Facebook.
Speaking in a video from Hong Kong in 2013, Snowden said he could not stay silent about what he had witnessed.
The NSA disclosures raised questions about U.S. surveillance efforts and privacy as well as private contractors' clearance procedures and access to sensitive data.
Fearing he would be arrested in Hong Kong, Snowden fled to Russia on June 23, 2013. He remained in hiding at Moscow Sheremetyevo airport for nearly six weeks as a diplomatic battle broke out over a request for political asylum in Ecuador.
Snowden found himself trapped as the United States revoked his passport and put fierce pressure on other countries not to allow any plane carrying him to use its airspace.
On August 1, 2013 Snowden left the airport having been granted a year's temporary asylum in Russia. Speculation had been rife that Russian security services "debriefed" Snowden to find out more about the operations of the NSA he had worked for briefly. This was denied by the Russian authorities.
Snowden was nominated by members of the European Parliament for the 2013 Sakharov Prize for freedom of thought. They said he had done an "enormous service" for human rights and European citizens by disclosing secret U.S. Internet and telephone surveillance programmes.
Snowden's revelations that the NSA monitored the email and telephone data of vast numbers of both Americans and foreigners, and a report that Washington spied on the European Union, caused outrage and triggered protests in several countries around the world.
In 2013, Snowden was charged in the United States with theft of government property, unauthorised communication of national defence information and wilful communication of classified intelligence to an unauthorised person.
In August 2014, Russia granted Snowden a three-year residence permit. His leave to remain has now been extended in until 2020.
In the same year, he was awarded the Right Livelihood Honorary Award, often referred to as the 'Alternative Nobel Prize', for his work on press freedom.
The Right Livelihood Award Foundation said Snowden was given the prize "for his courage and skill in revealing the unprecedented extent of state surveillance violating basic democratic processes and constitutional rights", a prize he shared with Alan Rusbridger, editor-in-chief of the British newspaper 'The Guardian', with whom Snowden collaborated to publish his NSA revelations.
In September 2015 he was also awarded the Bjornson Prize from the Norwegian Academy of Literature and Freedom of Expression.
Later that same month, Snowden backed a push for an international treaty on privacy rights, protection against improper surveillance and of whistleblowers as he said more countries were trying to boost spying powers.
On September 14, 2016, human rights groups in New York City called for U.S. President Barack Obama to pardon Snowden.
Some officials have acknowledged that Snowden raised legitimate questions about the extent and effectiveness of some electronic eavesdropping, particularly the NSA's sweeping collection of "metadata" on domestic telephone calls by Americans, a practice that was curtailed after his revelations. Others, however, say the material Snowden gave the media included sensitive details about the locations and operations of U.S. and allied global spying operations, some of which were compromised.
In November 2016 Snowden was asked by Reuters at a teleconference hosted by Buenos Aires University's law school, whether a U.S. administration under Donald Trump would pardon him, replying via video link that he did not know, but did know the risks when he came forward in 2013, and would still be working at NSA if he was only concerned with his own safety.
The Nobel Peace Prize will be announced in Oslo on Friday, October 11, at 1100 a.m. (0900GMT) and the prize, worth 9 million Swedish crowns ($ 1.12 million), will be handed over on December 10, 2019.
(Production Credit: Paul Warren, Eleanor Whalley, Vanessa Romeo)
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