The Green group in the European Parliament has nominated whistleblower Edward Snowden for the 2014 Nobel Peace Prize, on the last day before a deadline for nomination expires tomorrow (1 February).

The Green/EFA group said that the world had discovered in 2013 “the face of a young man, who had overnight become an icon of state treason for some and a heroic defender of the most basic freedoms for many more”.

According to the Greens, Snowden’s revelations on US secret services tapping the internet, phone calls and other communications data shed light on the largest and most systematic privacy violations the “free world” has seen in decades.

“His action has immensely contributed to the advancement of democratic values and the global consciousness of our interdependency and interconnectedness, and hence of universal peace. And for all those reasons, he deserves the consideration of the Norwegian Nobel Committee to be honoured for the Nobel Peace Prize,” the Greens said in a statement.

Their statement is signed by the current co-presidents of the Green group Daniel Cohn-Bendit and Rebecca Harms, as well as by the two front-people of the Green campaign for the European elections, Ska Keller (Germany) and José Bové (France). MEP Jan Philipp Albrecht (Germany), specialised in the field of civil rights, data protection and democracy, also signed the statement.

Last September, the Greens, together with the GUE/NGL leftist group in the European Parliament nominated Snowden to receive the Sakharov Prize for freedom of thought. However, the prize ended up going to a less controversial candidate, Pakistani teenager Malala Yousafzai.

The Greens are not the only ones backing Snowden for the Nobel Peace Prize. Two prominent Norwegians, Baard Vegar Solhjell, a former Socialist environment minister, and Snorre Valen, a musician and politician, also nominated Snowden for having contributed to a “more stable and peaceful world order", the Guardian newspaper reported.

As a result, Snowden will be among the scores of names that the Nobel committee will consider for the prestigious award.

There may be even more nominations for Snowden, as the five-member panel will not confirm who has been nominated but those who submit nominations sometimes make them public.

Nominators, including members of national parliaments and governments, university professors and previous laureates, must enter their submissions by 1 February.

The prize committee members can add their own candidates at their first meeting after that deadline.

Nominating Snowden could be seen as an affront to many in the United States, who consider him a traitor.

Snowden “should be returned to the US as soon as possible, where he will be accorded full due process,” White House National Security Council spokeswoman Caitlin Hayden said.