Snowden is one of seven on the short list for the Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought, awarded annually by the European Union’s Parliament.
The award, named for the famed Soviet dissident, has been handed out since 1988 to “exceptional individuals who combat intolerance, fanaticism and oppression,” its website says.
The Greens/European Free Alliance group and the Confederal Group of the European United Left-Nordic Green Left both nominated Snowden for the award, citing his national security leaks as the reason.
"Through his action, Mr. Snowden revealed systematic and widespread violation of fundamental rights, notably freedom of expression and the right to privacy, by these spying programmes, and triggered a ground-breaking, global debate on issues of mass surveillance, government secrecy and information privacy," the groups said in nominating him.
Another nominee in the running is Malala Yousafzai, who was shot by the Taliban in Pakistan for her campaign to educate girls and survived.
Previous winners of the Sakharov Prize include Nelson Mandela, Arab Spring activists and former United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan.
The Parliament’s Conference of Presidents will select the winner in Strasbourg, France Oct. 10. That person will be invited to an award ceremony in the French city Nov. 20.
Snowden has been granted temporary asylum in Russia, and it is unclear whether he'll be able to attend a ceremony if he gets the award. The United States does have an extradition treaty with France.