Fugitive U.S. intelligence analyst Edward Snowden is in the running for a prestigious European human rights prize whose past winners include Nelson Mandela and Myanmar opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi.

Snowden, who is in hiding in Russia, is one of seven nominations made by members of the European Parliament for this year's Sakharov Prize for freedom of thought.

A list of the individuals nominated for the prize was presented at a parliamentary session in Brussels on Monday (September 16).

"Edward Snowden, the American computer specialist and the former CIA NSA employee who released classified information about mass surveillance programmes of communication technologies," said Corina Cretu, a Romanian MEP, as she read out the names of the nominees.

Snowden was nominated by the Greens in the European Parliament who said in an written statement he had done an "enormous service for human rights" and European citizens by disclosing secret American internet and telephone surveillance programmes.

Russia granted the 30-year-old former data analyst a year's asylum last month, angering Washington, which wanted him sent home to face criminal charges including espionage.

Also among the nominees are Malala Yousafzai, the Pakistani girl shot in the head by the Taliban last year for demanding education for girls, and Russian former oil tycoon Mikhail Khodorkovsky, a critic of President Vladimir Putin who has been convicted of money-laundering, tax evasion and fraud.

The European Parliament's committees vote on a shortlist of three finalists on September 30. The winner will be chosen by parliamentary leaders on October 10.

Presented by Adam Justice