Former US intelligence contractor - turned - whistleblower Edward Snowden was awarded the Norwegian PEN prize for raising awareness and sparking debate over international government surveillance on Monday. The Carl von Ossietzky prize is awarded annually for efforts to uphold freedom of speech and expression. A German pacifist, von Ossietzky was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1935 for works exposing Germany’s re-armament program in the lead-up to World War II. "By awarding the prize to Edward Snowden, Norwegian PEN wish to pay respect to the unique role he has undertaken as a whistle blower," Norwegian PEN said on its website. The literary association said it wanted to highlight the importance of civil liberties and "expose the need for an international debate on surveillance." "The prize is also a recognition of the whistleblower’s personal courage during the revelations of governmental/public and secret encroachment on the personal integrity of individuals," it added. Norwegian PEN invited Snowden to receive the award in Oslo on November 18, stressing that it "will do our utmost to ensure that Snowden may receive the prize in person." Snowden has been awarded the von Ossietzky medal from the International League for Human Rights in Berlin on December 14, 2014. Norway awarded the former National Security Agency (NSA) contractor the Bjornson Prize last year.