BRUSSELS: Malala Yousufzai, the Pakistani teenage activist shot in the head by the Taliban last year for campaigning for better rights for girls, won the European Union's annual human rights award on Thursday.
She beat fugitive US intelligence analyst and whistleblower Edward Snowden to the prize.
The Sakharov Prize for freedom of thought is given by the European Parliament each year since 1988 to commemorate Soviet scientist and dissident Andrei Sakharov.
Its past winners include Nelson Mandela and Burmese activist Aung San Suu Kyi.
Malala, 16, who was attacked in Pakistan’s northwestern area of Swat by a group of gunmen who fired on her school bus, is also a favourite among experts and betting agencies to be awarded the Nobel Peace Prize.
Snowden had been nominated by the Green group in the parliament for what it said was his “enormous service” to human rights and European citizens when he disclosed secret US surveillance programmes.
Yousufzai was chosen as the winner after a vote among the heads of all the political groups in the 750-member parliament.
Malala has done 'nothing' to earn rights prize: Taliban
The Pakistani Taliban said teenage activist Malala Yousafzai had done “nothing” to deserve a prestigious EU rights award and vowed to try again to kill her.
“She has done nothing. The enemies of Islam are awarding her because she has left Islam and has became secular,” TTP spokesman Shahidullah Shahid told AFP by telephone from an undisclosed location.
“She is getting awards because she is working against Islam. Her struggle against Islam is the main reason for getting these awards.”
He repeated the TTP's threat — made numerous times in recent months — to try again to kill Malala, “even in America or the UK”.
Malala herself told Pakistani radio this week that she feels she has not yet done enough to earn the Nobel and spoke of her desire to do more practical work to promote education.
Her autobiography “I am Malala”, written with journalist Christina Lamb, has gone on sale in Pakistan and Shahid warned the Taliban would target bookshops stocking it.
“Malala is the enemy of Islam and Taliban and she wrote this book against Islam and Taliban,” he said.