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Greenwald: Rep. King's Condemnation A 'Badge Of Honor'

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AP Photo / FABIO MOTTA

"That’s just part of, I think, what journalism is," he continued. "If you want to be adversarial to those who wield power, you have to expect that those who wield power aren’t going to like what you’re doing very much. And not only doesn’t that bother me, I see that as a vindication that what I’m doing is the right thing."

CNN host Brian Stelter asked Greenwald whether the Pulitzer was trying to make a statement by giving the award to the Guardian and the Washington Post for their NSA coverage.

"I think it made a statement, whether that was their intent or not, I don’t know," Greenwald responded. "I assume it was. The people on the committee are long-time journalists, and presumably interested in defending basic press freedoms."

Greenwald came back to the U.S. for the Pulitzer awards, and explained on CNN that while he was worried about criminal charges, he hoped the awards would "make it very difficult to follow through on those threats."

"I was no longer willing to be kept in a single country, and kept out of my own country based on these sort of implicit threats and bullying techniques. And if they really wanted to do something, I wanted to force the issue and make them do it," he said.

Greenwald said that U.S. government officials "completely stonewalled" his lawyers, who tried to discern whether Greenwald would face charges if he returned to the U.S.

He also said that the Pulitzer prize was a "vindication," and that he had expected the committee to recognize his reporting in some form.