Reactions by Edward Snowden, Alan Rusbridger, Bill McKibben, Asma Jahangir and Basil Fernando to Right Livelihood Award



Press release, September 25 2014

Edward Snowden, Alan Rusbridger and Bill McKibben in video messages: “We have something to protect”

In response to yesterday’s announcement of this year’s Right Livelihood Awards, three recipients have recorded video messages, and two recipients circulated statements.

Edward Snowden says in a 1:40 minute clip:
“Being named a recipient of the Right Livelihood Award for my work in revealing the global system of mass surveillance that is monitoring all of us in secret without the consent of the public is a vindication, I think, not just for myself but for everyone who came before me to raise awareness about these issues. Any contribution that I have made has been a result of the efforts of so many other people working in journalism, in activism, in human rights community, the civil liberties community, the technical communities, who recognized long before I did what was coming and why it was so important to stop it. Now, initially I thought I would be setting out to do this alone and that the attacks against me would isolate me, but I am surrounded by more people than I ever have been. People from countries around the world, who speak many different languages, but who recognize that the meaning of resisting the violations of our freedoms that we see today is not that we have something to hide, but that we have something to protect – our rights. Because the list of freedoms that any society enjoys is always equal to those that we are ready to defend. On behalf of so many around the world, who have risked their lives and their freedom to resist unlawful and disproportional mass surveillance, I would like to thank you.”

Alan Rusbridger said in his video response yesterday:
“I am honoured to receive the Right Livelihood Award for the journalism of the Guardian, for the kind of journalism that we represent: journalism in the public interest, open journalism that is available to all and journalism that is seeking to remold and reinterpret journalism for the 21st century. I am also delighted that Edward Snowden has won an award, because I think he was a whistleblower who took considerable risks with his own personal freedom in order to tell society about things that people needed to know. And I think the combination of Edward Snowden and The Guardian show the value of journalism, what it can do, and robust journalistic institutions and how they can tell stories and defend them.”
Video:  (video provided by The Guardian)

Bill McKibben posted a message from New York after the highly successful People’s Climate March:
“This is a great honor but clearly it belongs mostly to the people who make up – it’s them, but above all the hundreds of thousands of volunteers in 191 countries, who have built the first global grassroots movement to deal with the largest crisis civilization has ever faced.” He added that the prize money would fund the work of and its partner organizations. Some money would be sent immediately to the Pacific Island activists who will blockade Australian coal ports in their traditional canoes next month. “This recognition of our efforts comes at a perfect moment after the remarkable success of the People’s Climate March and as we start the strongest push yet against the fossil fuel industry and the politicians it has purchased.”
Video message:
Press release:

Asma Jahangir says:
“This Award is not just for me but also for several people in our country who do human rights work. It is an encouragement for the younger generation to follow in the footsteps of those activists who came before them, who fought against oppression and for human dignity. Pakistan has often been portrayed in a negative way, and I am aware of its weaknesses. But it also has a brighter side, and that is the story of those who have struggled against oppressive regimes, and stood up for women’s rights, and for children, under extremely difficult circumstances.”

Basil Fernando circulated statements in which he made use of the occasion to call for a change at policy levels in strategies of poverty alleviation. Missing from poverty alleviation discourse, usually “is the cost that the poor have to pay, as a result of the absence of protection. (…) This absence is the non-existence of a public justice system capable of protecting the poor from the onslaught of predators in society.”
This challenge to all humanitarian organizations in the world “calls for richer understanding of humanitarian tasks, in terms of poverty alleviation and poverty eradication. This challenge for an understanding goes well beyond the mere doling-out of money or simply introducing programmes, such as credit facilities to the poor. Lobbying and advocacy for establishing and improving public justice systems must find place on the humanitarian agenda.”
For the full article, please refer to:

All videos and further information supporting this press release can be accessed via

For high-resolution pictures and videos, please also refer to
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Updates on the 2014 Recipients are also available via Twitter: @rlafoundation #RLA2014

Phone interview opportunities

* To contact Alan Rusbridger, please email Jo Murray:
* Asma Jahangir is travelling in India. She will be reachable at +91-98 18 75 93 86 later today.
* For Basil Fernando and AHRC in Hong Kong, please contact Mr. Nilantha Ilangamuwa, press officer, at +852 59777613.
* Bill McKibben, Vermont, USA. Media should contact Jamie Henn, press officer at, at +1 415-601-9337.

* Executive Director Ole von Uexkull (English, Swedish, German) and board member Juliane Kronen (English, German), Right Livelihood Award Foundation: +46-8-70 20 340 or +46-723-16 33 28.

Upcoming: Award Ceremony

The Awards will be presented at a ceremony in the Swedish Parliament on December 1, 2014, at 4 pm, hosted by the Society for the Right Livelihood Award in the Swedish Parliament.


Founded in 1980, the Right Livelihood Awards are presented annually in the Swedish Parliament and are often referred to as ‘Alternative Nobel Prizes’. They were introduced “to honour and support those offering practical and exemplary answers to the most urgent challenges facing us today”.

Jakob von Uexkull, a Swedish-German professional philatelist, sold his business to provide the original funding. Since then, the Awards have been financed by individual donors.

There are now 158 Right Livelihood Award Laureates from 65 countries.


Right Livelihood Award Foundation, Stockholm, Phone: +46-8-70 20 340, Cell phone: +49-170-24 49 348 (Birgit Jaeckel, International Communications)

Regional press offices:
For African media:
Zahra Moloo
Cell Phone: +254 724 568 164
For Swedish media:
Theresa Wan Ng
Cell Phone: +46-723-16 33 28

For German language media:
Holger Michel
Phone: +49-30-600 319 33-42
Cell Phone: +49-178-6623 679

For Spanish language media:
Nayla Azzinnari
Phone: +54-3543-422 236
Cell Phone: +54-911-5460 9860

For South Asian media:
Roma Rajpal-Weiß
Cell Phone: +49-171-1093666

If your job position has changed and you are now working in a different region or field, or if you do not want to receive press releases at all, please drop a message to Birgit Jaeckel at


Zahra Moloo

Press Consultant for Africa

Right Livelihood Award Foundation
Box 15072
104 65 Stockholm

Mobile: +254-724-568-164
Stockholm office: +46-8-702 03 40

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