Ex-security contractor and whistleblower Edward Snowden won a prize for “freedom of expression” from Norway and once more received an invitation to withdraw from exile and receive the award in person.
The award was given by the Norwegian Academy of Literature and Freedom of Expression and said that the 31-year-old whistleblower had earned the Bjornson prize named after a Norwegian laureate of literature "for his work protecting privacy and for shining a critical light on US surveillance of its citizens and others."
Snowden, prior to his exile was an analyst for the US national security, now in asylum in Russia since 2013 after leaking information regarding mass surveillance by the US government and its allies.
The US administration has called him a betrayer and blamed him with acting in deadly espionage who endangered many lives by revealing the scope of the NSA spying programme.
The Norwegian academy wanted reassurances from the Norwegian government that if Snowden were to travel to Norway to receive the award and prize money worth $12,700 in person on Sept. 5.
The Ministry of Justice in Norway said it was the call of immigration authorities, who specified that any request will be considered regardless of the circumstances.
A spokesperson for the State Department, Marie Harf said she would not comment on whether the US administration will call for Snowden’s extradition.
However she cautioned: "We would advise any government that there's only one place he should travel, and that's back here to the US to face the charges he faces."
She said Snowden is facing "very serious" charges and added "if he had the courage of his convictions that he claims, he would come face justice here in the US."
The award winner was released on the same day the US senate passed on significant legislation that restricts the powers of the National Security Agency, where Snowden was once an analyst. Snowden welcomed the move as “historic.”
Snowden was also awarded a freedom related award by Sweden in 2014 called the Right Livelihood Act. He decided not to leave his exile in Russia and attend the award ceremony in Sweden, but preferred to accept is via online video linking.
Snowden has also been nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize twice consecutively. The awards winner will be announced in Oslo on Oct. 9.