The finalists for this year’s Sakharov Prize have been named as Belarusian political prisoners Ales Bialatski, Eduard Lobau and Mykola Statkevich, NSA whistle-blower Edward Snowden and Pakistani campaigner for girls' education Malala Yousafzai. The laureate will be selected by EP president Martin Schulz and the leaders of the political groups on 10 October and the ceremony will take place in Strasbourg on 20 November.
The names of the finalists were announced on 30 September following a meeting of the foreign affairs and development committees together with the human rights subcommittee to pick three finalists out of a list of seven nominations.
Ales Bialatski, Eduard Lobau and Mykola Statkevich (representing all Belarusian political prisoners) are dissidents from Belarus. They have been in jail since a peaceful demonstration took place in Minsk's Independence Square on 19 December 2010, against the disputed re-election of president Alexander Lukashenko. Ales Bialiatski is president of the "Viasna" Human Rights Centre, Eduard Lobau is a "Malady Front" activist, and Mykola Statkevich was a presidential candidate in 2010.
Edward Snowden is an American computer expert and former CIA/NSA employee who released classified information about the US mass surveillance of electronic communications. In June 2013 the US government charged him with espionage, theft and illegal use of government property. In July he was given temporary asylum in Russia.
Malala Yousafzai is a 16-year-old girl who fights for the right to women's education, freedom and self-determination in Pakistan's Swat Valley, where the Taliban regime has banned girls from attending school. She was 11 years old when she began her fight by writing a blog under a pseudonym. She quickly became a prominent voice against such abuses and Taliban gunmen tried to assassinate her in October 2012. She has since become the symbol of the fight for women's rights and worldwide access to education.