NEW YORK (AP) — The Washington Post and The Guardian won the Pulitzer Prize in public service Monday for revealing the U.S. government’s sweeping surveillance efforts in a blockbuster series of stories based on secret documents handed over by National Security Agency leaker Edward Snowden.
The Pulitzer for breaking news was awarded to The Boston Globe for its “exhaustive and empathetic” coverage of the Boston Marathon bombing and the manhunt that followed.
The winning entries about the NSA’s spy programs revealed that the government has collected information about millions of Americans’ phone calls and emails to try to head off another 9/11-style terrorist attack.
The disclosures touched off a furious debate in the U.S. over privacy versus security and led President Barack Obama to impose limits on the surveillance.
Two of the nation’s most distinguished newspapers, The Post and The New York Times, won two Pulitzers each.
The Pulitzer for explanatory reporting went to the Post’s Eli Saslow for reporting on food stamps in America.
The New York Times won twice in photography: Tyler Hicks was honored in the breaking news category for documenting the Westgate mall terrorist attack in Kenya, and Josh Haner was cited for his essay on a Boston Marathon blast victim who lost his legs.
The NSA stories were written by Barton Gellman at The Washington Post and Glenn Greenwald, Laura Poitras and Ewan MacAskill, whose work was published by The Guardian US, the British newspaper’s American operation, based in New York.
“I think this is amazing news,” Poitras said in New York. “It’s a testament to Snowden’s courage, a vindication of his courage and his desire to let the public know what the government is doing.”
Snowden, a former contract employee at the NSA, has been charged with espionage and other offenses in the U.S. and could get 30 years in prison if convicted. He has received asylum in Russia.