By Rebecca Shabad - 02/18/14 12:57 PM EST
Students at the University of Glasgow in Scotland elected Edward Snowden on Tuesday to be their rector for the next three years.
Snowden, a former contractor who revealed the National Security Agency's surveillance programs in one of the worst national security leaks in U.S. history, joins Winnie Mandela and Mordechai Vanunu in being selected as rector.
Vanunu, for example, is a former Israeli nuclear technician who disclosed details of Israel’s nuclear program.
“We are delighted to see Edward Snowden elected as the new Rector of the University of Glasgow," said Chris Cassells, spokesman to Snowden for the university campaign.
"We have a proud and virtuous tradition of making significant statements through our Rectors and today we have once more championed this idea by proving to the world that we are not apathetic to important issues such as democratic rights,” he said.
Two of the earliest and most renowned rectors at the university include philosophers Adam Smith and Edmund Burke, during the Enlightenment period.
In an ex-officio role, the rector also serves as chairman of the university court, which oversees the school’s distribution of resources. The rector is expected to attend court meetings, but that would be unlikely for Snowden.
The former National Security Agency contractor has been living at an undisclosed location in Russia since last August. The Russian government granted him temporary asylum for one year.
He faces espionage charges in the United States for stealing and leaking highly classified U.S. government documents since last June.