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BRUSSELS, September 28. /TASS/. NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden, former Ukrainian pilot Nadezhda Savchenko and Russian opposition figure Boris Nemtsov killed in late February are among the nominees for the European Parliament's (EP) 2015 Sakharov Prize for those defending human rights and fundamental freedoms, the EP press service said on Monday.
"The nominations were presented on Monday 28 September during a joint meeting of the foreign affairs and development committees and the human rights subcommittee," the statement said.
The prize is awarded every year to honor exceptional individuals who combat intolerance, fanaticism and oppression.
Edward Snowden is a computer expert who worked as a contractor for the US National Security Agency and leaked details of its mass surveillance programs to the press. Boris Nemtsov is a former Russian deputy prime minister and opposition politician who was assassinated in Moscow this February. Nadezhda Savchenko is a Ukrainian military pilot, charged with killing two Russian journalists in Russia.
Among the nominees is also Raif Badawi, a Saudi Arabian blogger and author of the website Free Saudi Liberals, who was sentenced to 10 years in prison, 1,000 lashes and a hefty fine for insulting Islamic values on his website.
The EP prize for human rights defend may also be won by political prisoners in Venezuela as well as the democratic opposition, formed in 2008 to unify the opposition to president Hugo Chavez's political party. Another candidate is Edna Adan Ismail, a Somali activist for the abolition of female genital mutilation and a former government minister.
Nominations for the Sakharov Prize can be made by political groups or by at least 40 members of the European Parliament. Based on the nominations, the foreign affairs and development committees vote on a shortlist of three finalists. After that the Conference of Presidents, made up of the EP President and the leaders of the political groups, select the winner.
This year on October 15 three finalists will be chosen, and the winner will be announced on October 29.
Last year the prize was awarded to Denis Mukwege, Congolese doctor who dedicated his life to rebuilding the bodies and lives of Congolese women and girls who were victims of gang rape and brutal sexual violence.