Newspapers The Guardian and The Washington Post have been awarded a Pulitzer Prize for their groundbreaking coverage of Edward Snowden’s revelations about the National Security Agency (NSA)’s secret surveillance efforts.
Both The Guardian US and The Washington Post shared the Public Service award for their coverage of the NSA’s techniques for monitoring web traffic and social network sites, and for mobile phone tracking.
The newspapers published a series of reports detailing the NSA’s domestic and international surveillance programmes, igniting global debate about the rights and wrongs of government surveillance.
Whistleblower Snowden, a former CIA contractor who had been based in Hawaii, became a refugee after providing the newspapers with the data; absconding first to Hong Kong and then on to Russia, where he currently resides.
The newspapers risked censure and ran the gauntlet of intimidation for their vast reporting of the issue, which irritated both the UK and US governments’ security apparatus.
Importance of a free press
In a comment to The Guardian, Snowden said the award is a vindication for everyone who believes the public has a role in government.
“I am grateful to the committee for their recognition of the efforts of those involved in the last year’s reporting, and join others around the world in congratulating Glenn Greenwald, Laura Poitras, Barton Gellman, Ewen MacAskill and all of the others at The Guardian and Washington Post on winning the Pulitzer Prize for Public Service,” Snowden said.
“Today’s decision is a vindication for everyone who believes that the public has a role in government. We owe it to the efforts of the brave reporters and their colleagues who kept working in the face of extraordinary intimidation, including the forced destruction of journalistic materials, the inappropriate use of terrorism laws, and so many other means of pressure to get them to stop what the world now recognises was work of vital public importance.
“This decision reminds us that what no individual conscience can change, a free press can. My efforts would have been meaningless without the dedication, passion, and skill of these newspapers, and they have my gratitude and respect for their extraordinary service to our society. Their work has given us a better future and a more accountable democracy,” Snowden said.