Iranian dissidents win 2012 Sakharov Prize


Sakharov prize award ceremony at the European Parliament in Strasbourg, eastern France, on December 14, 2011.



Two Iranian dissidents were awarded the prestigious 2012 Sakharov Prize by the European Parliament on Friday.

Nasrin Sotoudeh, a jailed human rights lawyer, and Jafar Panahi, a banned filmmaker were given the award jointly, the Los Angeles Times reported.

European Parliament President Martin Schulz said the award was "a message of solidarity and recognition to a woman and a man who have not been bowed by fear and intimidation," the Associated Press wrote.

Sotoudeh, who is currently in prison has been a champion of human rights activists in her country, while Panahi "won the Camera d'Or at the 1995 Cannes Film Festival," according to the AP.

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Yekaterina Samutsevich, a member of the feminist Russian punk band Pussy Riot, who were among the finalists for the prize, said she was happy Panahi won.

Two of Pussy Riot's members are in prison for criticizing Russian President Vladimir Putin.

"It's very important for us that it went to someone who is in jail for their feminist views," Samutsevich told the AP. "That's essentially the same as what happened to us."

According to the LA Times, the prize is named after former Soviet dissident and honors those who have made contributions in the fields of human rights.

The prize will be formally awarded in Strasbourg, France this December.