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BRUSSELS (Reuters) - Fugitive U.S. intelligence analyst Edward Snowden has made the shortlist for a European human rights prize whose past winners include Nelson Mandela and Aung San Suu Kyi.
Snowden was nominated for the Sakharov Prize by the Green group in the European Parliament for what it said was his "enormous service" to human rights and European citizens when he disclosed secret U.S. surveillance programs.
Snowden, who is in hiding in Russia, said in a statement read out to parliament that he was grateful lawmakers were "taking up the challenge of mass surveillance".
"The surveillance of whole populations, rather than individuals, threatens to be the greatest human rights challenge of our time," he said.
Among the other nominees for the prize, to be announced on October 10, is Malala Yousafzai, the Pakistani girl shot in the head by the Taliban last year for demanding education for girls.
The Sakharov Prize for freedom of thought is given by the European Parliament each year since 1988 to commemorate Soviet scientist and dissident Andrei Sakharov
One of the recipients of last year's prize, Iranian lawyer Nasrin Sotoudeh, was released from jail this month in what was seen as part of a move by a new government to present a less hardline stance on dissenters.
Reporting By Claire Davenport; Editing by Robin Pomeroy