Yesterday, Edward Snowden was officially awarded the 2014 Berliner Prize for Civil Courage. The prize recognized Snowden's "courageous advocacy for democracy and civil rights." The 10,000 Euro prize is a citizen-driven initiative, which is funded by 100 private donors who donated 100 Euro. While most of the donors are based in Germany, donations also came from Austria, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, France, Nepal, Switzerland, and the United States. Is the Nobel Peace Prize next?
In Germany and much of Europe, Snowden is viewed as a hero. Snowden, like Daniel Ellsberg who leaked the Pentagon Papers in 1971, has brought to light important information that deserves to be in the public domain. Snowden uncovered questionable activities that our leaders wanted to keep secret, information that every free society needs to know. He disclosed the NSA's massive surveillance programs, which constituted an unconstitutional invasion of Americans' and foreign citizens' privacy rights. These surveillance activities did nothing to protect our security, but instead, placed our very liberties in danger.
Many people will think differently; but the fact remains, the Snowden leaks did no lasting harm to US national security. No one was placed in danger, no vital US military plans were disclosed, and no conversations between US officials and foreign diplomats were revealed.