Jailed Belarusians, Malala, Snowden shortlisted for Sakharov prize

Three jailed Belarusian dissidents, US intelligence leaker Edward Snowden and Pakistani girls' education campaigner Malala Yousafzai were shortlisted Monday for the European Parliament's prestigious Sakharov human rights prize.

The three Belarusians, Ales Bialatski, Eduard Lobau and Mykola Statkevich, were jailed after mass protests in Minsk in December 2010 against the re-election of President Alexander Lukashenko.

They were backed for the prize, to be announced October 10 and officially November 20, by some 40 EU centre-right and conservative lawmakers.

Malala, who has become emblematic of the fight against the most radical forms of Islamism, was backed by the three main political groups in parliament, making her a favourite for the award.

Snowden, the US contractor who revealed widespread spying by the United states on friends and foes alike and who has sought asylum in Russia, was nominated by the Greens and a far left group.

Last year's award went to detained Iranians, lawyer Nasrin Sotoudeh and film-maker Jafar Panahi, to honour those "standing up for a better Iran."

Past winners of the 50,000-euro ($65,000) prize include South African anti-apartheid hero Nelson Mandela and former UN secretary general Kofi Annan.