Both were key players in exposing the US government surveillance program that has outraged the national and international communities alike.
Ex-NSA tech Edward Snowden and Laura Poitras were awarded the 2014 Ridenhour Prize for Truth-Telling, an award named after the Vietnam veteran Ron Ridenhour, a whistleblower and an investigative journalist, who helped uncover the My Lai massacre.
The Ridenhour prize, which includes a USD 10,000 stipend, is awarded to:
- Those who persevere in acts of truth-telling that protect the public interest, promote social justice, or illuminate a more just vision of society.”
Edward Snowden, an ex-NSA contractor and whistleblower, was awarded for his exposure about the NSA’s warrantless snooping, while Laura Poitras, a celebrated documentary filmmaker and an investigative journalist, received the prize for assisting Snowden in disclosing the information.
The awards committee said,
- We have selected Edward Snowden and Laura Poitras for their work in exposing the NSA’s illegal and unconstitutional bulk collection of the communications of millions of people living in the United States. Their act of courage was undertaken at great personal risk and has sparked a critical and transformative debate about mass surveillance in a country where privacy is considered a constitutionally protected right.”
The awards will be presented on April 30, 2014 at the Washington Press Club, in absentia. The awards committee has plans to coordinate remote appearances of the recipients.
In 2013, Snowden leaked huge amount of classified documents related to the US government’s surveillance program to journalists Poitras and Glenn Greenwald, which are published in The Guardian regularly. The documents were proof of the extent to which the US government was snooping on the private data of people through its phone and internet dragnets.
Ever since the leak, there has been an ongoing debate and national outcry against the government surveillance. It has strained international relations when the revelations highlighted several country heads and prominent people being spied.