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Sixteen-year-old Malala Yousafzai speaks at a special event in New York in late September. (file photo)
BRUSSELS -- Pakistani schoolgirl Malala Yousafzai, American Edward Snowden, and Belarusian political prisoners Ales Byalyatski, Eduard Lobau, and Mikola Statkevich have all been short-listed for the 2013 Sakharov Prize.

The 50,000 euro ($65,000) prize is awarded every year by the European Parliament to honor defenders of human rights and freedom of expression.

ALSO READ: Belarusian Byalyatski Awarded First-Ever Havel Prize

Pakistani education activist and Nobel Peace Prize nominee Malala Yousafzai is widely regarded as the favorite when the prize is announced on 10 October.

She has been backed by the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe (ALDE), the Socialists & Democrats (S&D), and two center-right groups, the European People's Party (EPP) and the European Conservatives and Reformists Group (ECR).

Snowden, who fled the United States after disclosing classified electronic-surveillance activities, is supported by the Greens and the leftist GUE/NGL but remains a controversial choice for most members of the European Parliament.

Byalyatski, Lobau, and Statkevich enjoy strong Polish backing in the chamber and are nominated on behalf of all Belarusian political prisoners.
The activists were arrested after a marathon in Minsk that they ran wearing T-shirts bearing the likeness of Mikalay Statkevich, a former presidential candidate who is currently in jail.
MINSK -- Four activists in Belarus were fined $140 each for wearing T-shirts emblazoned with a portrait of a jailed opposition politician.

Kiryl Zhyvalovych, Yauhen Naporka, Maksim Dubouski, and Andrey Vislovich were found guilty on September 30 of holding an unsanctioned picket.

ALSO READ: Statkevich Among Those Short-Listed For Europe's Sakharov Prize

The activists were arrested on September 28 after participating in a marathon in Minsk while wearing T-shirts bearing the likeness of Mikalay Statkevich, a former presidential candidate who is currently in jail.

Zhyvalovich, the only one of the four who was released the day of their detention, told RFE/RL before the subsequent hearing that he will decide himself what T-shirt to wear despite any decision by any court.

Statkevich is serving a six-year prison term for "organizing mass disturbances" following President Alyaksandr Lukashenka's reelection in December 2010, which was heavily criticized by Western observers and sparked street demonstrations on election night.

The protests were brutally suppressed by authorities.

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"Watchdog" is a blog with a singular mission -- to monitor the latest developments concerning human rights, civil society, and press freedom. We'll pay particular attention to reports concerning countries in RFE/RL's broadcast region.

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