Government leaker Edward Snowden on Wednesday was given an award often referred to as the “Alternative Nobel Prize.’
The Right Livelihood Award, which was created in 1980 to honor people founder Jakob von Uexküll felt were being ignored by the Nobel Committee — honored Snowden for his “courage and skill in revealing the unprecedented extent of state surveillance violating basic democratic processes and constitutional rights,” the group said.
Snowden will share the honorary award with Guardian editor Alan Rusbridger, who pushed to publish stories based on Snowden’s documents as well as disclosures from WikiLeaks and other sources.
The former government contractor’s leaks about the National Security Agency (NSA) captured headlines around the globe and created a shockwave from Capitol Hill to Germany and Brazil, where tensions about the spying are still riding high.
Documents leaked by Snowden showed that the NSA collects the bulk telephone records of practically every American as well as many communications from Internet services like Facebook and Google, among other programs.
After fleeing the U.S. last year, Snowden hid out first in Hong Kong and then Russia, where he has been since. The U.S. government has charged him with espionage crimes that could land him in prison for decades if he were to return to his home country.
Despite the charges, Snowden has repeatedly declared his desire to come back to the U.S. His lawyers were involved in negotiations with American officials to try and cut a deal to allow him to come home without seeing the inside of a jail cell, but those talks seem to have stalled.
In August, Russia granted Snowden a residency permit to live in the country for three more years.
Other Right Livelihood Award laureates for 2014 were Pakistani human rights advocate Asma Jahangir, Asian activist Basil Fernando and American climate activist Bill McKibben.