Journalists who broke NSA story in Guardian receive George Polk Awards

Martin Pengelly

The three journalists who broke the National Security Agency revelations from Edward Snowden in the Guardian are among the recipients of the prestigious 2013 George Polk Awards in Journalism.

Glenn Greenwald, Ewen MacAskill and Laura Poitras will receive the award for national security reporting, along with Barton Gellman of the Washington Post.

Journalists who broke NSA story in Guardian receive George Polk Awards

Janine Gibson, Guardian US editor-in-chief, said: “We’re honoured by the recognition from the Polk awards and delighted for Ewen, Glenn, Laura, Barton and their colleagues that their work has been recognised.

“It has been an extraordinary and occasionally menacing eight months of reporting for the Guardian and the support of our peers through this distinguished award is very much appreciated.”

In late May 2013 MacAskill, a senior Guardian US correspondent, Greenwald, then a Guardian columnist, and Poitras, an independent filmmaker, travelled to Hong Kong to meet Snowden, a former NSA contractor.

Thousands of documents provided by Snowden have formed the basis of ongoing reporting into the agency’s surveillance activities in the US and overseas.

“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, 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 statement announcing the awards said.

John Darnton, curator of the awards, said: “In the tradition of George Polk, many of the journalists we have recognised did more than report news. They heightened public awareness with perceptive detection and dogged pursuit of stories that otherwise would not have seen the light of day.

“Repercussions of the NSA stories in particular will be with us for years to come.”

Glenn Greenwald and Laura Poitras’ video interview with Edward Snowden.

In October 2013, the Guardian won two awards from the Online News Association for its work on NSA surveillance.The same month, Greenwald left the Guardian to work with eBay founder Pierre Omidyar on a new project, First Look Media.

The George Polk Awards were established by Long Island University in 1949, in memory of a CBS correspondent murdered while covering the Greek civil war in 1948. The 2013 awards will be presented in Manhattan on Friday, 11 April.

Others honoured include Eli Saslow of the Washington Post, for his reporting on food stamps and those who depend on them; Shawn Boberg of the Record of New Jersey, for his coverage of the Chris Christie bridge lane-closure scandal; and Tim Elfrink of the Miami New Times, for his work on the Biogenesis performance-enhancing drugs scandal in Major League Baseball. The veteran New York columnist Pete Hammill will receive a special award.

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