World Bulletin/News Desk
Former U.S. spy agency contractor Edward Snowden has been awarded Sweden's Right Livelihood Honorary Award, often referred to as the 'Alternative Nobel Prize', for his work on press freedom, the award's foundation said on Wednesday.
Snowden is wanted by the United States for leaking extensive secrets of its electronic surveillance programmes and lives in Russia where he has a three-year residence permit.
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."
He shares the award with Alan Rusbridger, editor-in-chief of the British newspaper The Guardian, with whom he collaborated to publish his revelations on the U.S. National Security Agency (NSA), the foundation said in a statement.
It also said it would fund legal support for Snowden.
Snowden, who fled to Hong Kong and then Moscow last year, is believed to have taken 1.7 million computerised documents. Those published so far revealed massive programmes run by the NSA that gathered information on emails, phone calls and Internet use by hundreds of millions of Americans.
Snowden was charged last year 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.
The Right Livelihood Award was established in 1980 to honour and support those "offering practical and exemplary answers to the most urgent challenges facing us today".