The first journalists to report on documents leaked by former National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden were named Monday among the 30 recipients of the 2013 George Polk Awards in Journalism.
Long Island University, which oversees the award, announced that Glenn Greenwald, The Guardian’s Ewen MacAskill, Laura Poitras and The Washington Post’s Barton Gellman received the award.
“The reporters conferred with Snowden to negotiate release of the material and then used their extensive backgrounds covering national security to explore the purloined files and reveal their stunning import on the Website Guardian US, describing how the NSA gathered information on untold millions of unsuspecting — and unsuspected — Americans, plugged into the communications links of major Internet companies and coerced companies like Yahoo and Google into turning over data about their customers,” the university said in a press release.
Greenwald and Poitras received the award for the NSA-related work they published last year in The Guardian. They have since become involved with a new journalism venture, First Look Media, funded by eBay founder Pierre Omidyar, and recently unveiled a new outlet: The Intercept. In an article Monday reacting to news the Polk awards, The Intercept’s Ryan Devereaux wrote that it is not yet known whether the pair will travel to the U.S. to receive the award.
“Whether Greenwald and Poitras will return to the U.S. to collect their prize remains to be seen, however, as senior government officials have repeatedly employed rhetoric equating the journalism the Polk Award is recognizing to criminal activity,” Devereaux wrote. “Greenwald is currently living in Brazil; Poitras in Germany. Both are American citizens.”
“I would love to accept the Polk award in person with Glenn and Ewen, but I’m not sure I feel safe to travel to the U.S.,” Poitras told The Intercept in an email. “Listening to senior members of the government describe reporters working on the NSA story as ‘accomplishes’ [sic] concerns me. On the other hand, receiving this award for the NSA reporting might be the perfect moment to confront this kind of intimidation.”
The Polk Awards will be presented at an event in New York City on April 11.
Read the full list of winners here.