Edward Snowden speaks via video link at a news conference for the launch of a campaign calling for President Obama to pardon him on September 14, 2016 in New York City. (Photo by AFP)
The German city of Kassel has awarded American whistle-blower Edward Snowden for the "courage and conscience" that he showed in spilling US secrets.
Snowden "with courage, competence and reason has taken a conscience decision and put his past life and safety at stake for a bigger thing,” the organizers said, awarding him the Glass of Reason, worth 10,000 euros.
The former National Security Agency (NSA) contractor, wanted in the US for spilling state secrets, currently lives in Russia under asylum granted by President Vladimir Putin .
During his tenure at NSA, Snowden downloaded tens of thousands of classified top secret US documents and then published them. The documents exposed the huge extent of US spying across the world, on friends and foes alike.
The publication of the documents dealt a heavy blow to the US government, causing it an international scandal.

(L-R) FBI Director James Comey, CIA Director John Brennan, NSA Director Admiral Michael Rogers, and directors of US spying agencies speak at a panel at the 2016 Intelligence and National Security Summit in Washington, DC, September 8, 2016. (Photo by AFP)
Snowden is wanted by the US government for treason and faces up to 30 years in prison. Many people around the world, however, consider him a hero who did what was morally correct that benefited the public.
In 2013, Snowden fled to Russia and was granted temporary asylum there. "I'm comfortable with the decisions I made….I don’t want to live in a world where there’s no privacy,” he has said.

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