Former US intelligence contractor Edward Snowden has been awarded the Fritz Bauer Prize of the German Humanist Union, a prominent civil rights organization, for exposing the controversial surveillance practices of the NSA and its accomplices.
“Edward Snowden showed exceptional moral courage in exposing illegal surveillance practices,” the national chairman Werner Koep-Kerstin said on Saturday in Rastatt.
With his leaks about NSA activities, Koep-Kerstin claims, Snowden had “initiated a long overdue debate on the limits of the security mania, democratic demands on the control of intelligence as well as international rules of surveillance,” Märkische online Zeitungmeans quotes.
The Fritz Bauer Prize was established in 1968 in memory of its founder, Fritz Bauer, the longtime Attorney General of Hesse, who pioneered a legal fight against Nazi injustice. The Humanist Union presents the award to those who have excelled in contributions to the humanization, liberalization and democratization of the judiciary.
Snowden zum Fritz-Bauer-Preis: Es ist eine große Ehre für mich, an eurer Seite für die Menschenrechte zu arbeiten! pic.twitter.com/qnlc2RqSn6
— Humanistische Union (@humunion) June 21, 2014
Last summer, Snowden had already secured the recognition of the German advocates, receiving the 2013 Whistleblower Award. And in October, a group of US whistleblowers presented Snowden with the Sam Adams Award for ‘Integrity in Intelligence’ during a secret meetingin Moscow.
The 31-year-old, who has been living in Russia for almost a year after being granted asylum from US prosecution, is a key figure in the ongoing German probe into NSA spy scandal that monitored millions of Germans and its Chancellor Angela Merkel.
Members of the German legislative committee, appointed to investigate the NSA’s snooping of Chancellor Merkel's phone, were planning to visit Moscow to meet the whistleblower.
Snowden earlier claimed that he is ready to testify about American wrongdoings and has even sent a letter to the German authorities, requesting a meeting. However, he has reportedly turned down the offer to meet German MPs in Russia. His lawyer Wolfgang Kaleck said Snowden believes at this point there is “no room or need for an oral, 'informal' meeting in Moscow” and that substantial testimony would only be possible in Germany.
Recent reports suggest that Germany has become one of the National Security Agency’s most important centers for data collection and surveillance operations in Europe.
The rejection may come as a temporary relief to the German government, which warned the committee that Snowden’s testimony might cause “negative consequences” on Germany's relations and cooperation with the US.