Edward Snowden, the former NSA contractor who risked everything (including his life) to alert the world to the scale of the United States’ National Security Agency spying operations (basically they are spying on just about everything everybody everywhere does on the internet or when using their phone, plus undermining all security on the web by trying to crack all encryption), has been given the ‘Right Livelihood’ award (also known as the ‘Alternative Nobel Prize’) in recognition of his service to humanity.
‘The Right Livelihood jury honors Edward Snowden for his courage and skill in revealing the unprecedented extent of state surveillance violating basic democratic processes and constitutional rights.’
Guardian editor Alan Rusbridger, who also received an award for ‘responsible journalism in the public interest, undaunted by the challenge of exposing corporate and government malpractices,’ summed up the value of what Mr Snowden has done,
‘One of the challenges Snowden poses for us is the recognition that there is no such thing as the public interest. No such thing as one single, monolithic interest that overrides all others. So there are many – often conflicting – public interests, not one.’
The ceremony was help in Sweden’s Parliament building (the Riksdaghuset), where Snowden received several standing ovations. Symbolically, no-one picked up the award on Mr Snowden’s behalf, as his family and supporters hope that he will one day be able to travel to Sweden to pick up the award himself. His father, Lon Snowden, was however present at the ceremony,
‘I am thankful for the support of the Right Livelihood award and the Swedish parliament. The award will remain here in expectation that some time – sooner or later – he will come to Stockholm to accept the award.’
The ‘Right Livelihood award was founded in 1980 by philanthropist Jakob von Uexküll, who echoed these sentiments,
‘So Mr Snowden, your Right Livelihood Award is waiting for you. We trust that Sweden will make it possible for you to collect your award here in Stockholm in person in the very near future.’
Snowden currently resides in exile under the protection of Moscow, and faces criminal charges (at best) under the US Espionage Act should he leave Russia. It is widely hoped among those who recognize Mr Snowden’s bravery in alerting the human race about it how it is sleepwalking towards an Orwellian nightmare, that a European country (such as Sweden) will offer him asylum.
Given the pressure that the US government has brought to bear to prevent any such moves in the past, this seems unlikely for the foreseeable future, but we are pleased to learn that Mr Snowden has been joined by his girlfriend Lindsay Mills in Moscow, and wish him happiness whatever happens.