Former NSA contractor and whistleblower Edward Snowden was given the prestigious Carl von Ossietzky award in Berlin on Sunday, a top honour which recognises courageous contributions made in the field of human rights.
The International League for Human Rights in Berlin, which has been awarding the prize to human rights defenders since 1962, said in its official website that Snowden was chosen because he displayed "momentous decision of conscience...to put his personal freedom on the line" and aimed to expose the "abuse of power", which was exercised by the government of the United States and Germany.
The whistleblower – who exposed the extensive surveillance program exercised by the US government – shared the medal with Glenn Greenwald, the Guardian journalist who broke the sensational story last year. The same medal also belongs collectively to Laura Poitras, who made a documentary about the whole surveillance scandal. Poitras was present in Berlin to accept the award on the trio's behalf, reported German Channel DW.
The US fugitive, Snowden is currently living under temporary asylum in Russia and is not allowed to enter Germany or any other country. However, the 31-year-old, who is held in high esteem in Germany, reportedly appeared via Skype to greet everyone present at the function.
The crowd was addressed by many speakers including former German Interior Minister Gerhart Baum and human rights lawyer Wlfgang Kaleck. Baum reportedly spoke about how Snowden had "opened our eyes to the largest intelligence surveillance scandal I know."
Kaleck was also cited as saying that CIA agents involved in torturing of inmates in secret sites, as revealed by the CIA torture report recently, must be prosecuted.