Washington Post, Guardian share Pulitzer for NSA coverage

The New York Times photographer Tyler Hicks' image of family, friends and work colleagues attending the funeral of Ruth Njeri Macharia at Langata Cemetery in Nairobi, Kenya on September 27, 2013. -- FILE PHOTO: REUTERS
The New York Times photographer Tyler Hicks' image of family, friends and work colleagues attending the funeral of Ruth Njeri Macharia at Langata Cemetery in Nairobi, Kenya on September 27, 2013. -- FILE PHOTO: REUTERS
The New York Times photographer Josh Haner's image of Jeff Bauman is shown in this picture provided by the New York Times, which was part of his Pulitzer prize winning entry for feature photography announced by Columbia University in New York on Apri
The New York Times photographer Josh Haner's image of Jeff Bauman is shown in this picture provided by the New York Times, which was part of his Pulitzer prize winning entry for feature photography announced by Columbia University in New York on April 14, 2014. -- PHOTO: REUTERS 
Reuters journalist Jason Szep (left) celebrates with colleague Alistair Bell in the Reuters Washington bureau after it was announced Mr Szep and a team from Reuters won a Pulitzer prize for international reporting on the violent persecution of a Musl
Reuters journalist Jason Szep (left) celebrates with colleague Alistair Bell in the Reuters Washington bureau after it was announced Mr Szep and a team from Reuters won a Pulitzer prize for international reporting on the violent persecution of a Muslim minority in Myanmar on April 14, 2014. -- PHOTO: REUTERS
A woman and children hiding inside the Westgate Mall during an attack by militants in Nairobi, Kenya on Sept 21, 2013. -- FILE PHOTO: AFP
A woman and children hiding inside the Westgate Mall during an attack by militants in Nairobi, Kenya on Sept 21, 2013. -- FILE PHOTO: AFP
The New York Times photographer Josh Haner's image of Jeff Bauman is shown in this picture provided by The New York Times which was part of his Pulitzer prize winning entry for feature photography announced by Columbia University in New York on April
The New York Times photographer Josh Haner's image of Jeff Bauman is shown in this picture provided by The New York Times which was part of his Pulitzer prize winning entry for feature photography announced by Columbia University in New York on April 14, 2014. -- PHOTO: REUTERS
The New York Times photographer Josh Haner (centre) with sports editor Jason Stallman, after it was announced that Mr Haner won the Pulitzer prize in New York on April 14, 2014. --  PHOTO: REUTERS
The New York Times photographer Josh Haner (centre) with sports editor Jason Stallman, after it was announced that Mr Haner won the Pulitzer prize in New York on April 14, 2014. --  PHOTO: REUTERS
The New York Times photographer Tyler Hicks reacts as he is applauded by colleagues in the newsroom after it was announced he won the Pulitzer prize in New York on April 14, 2014. -- PHOTO: REUTERS
The New York Times photographer Tyler Hicks reacts as he is applauded by colleagues in the newsroom after it was announced he won the Pulitzer prize in New York on April 14, 2014. -- PHOTO: REUTERS
Editor Brian McGrory and members of the newsroom applaud after the newspaper was awarded a Pulitzer Prize for breaking news in Dorchester, Massachusetts on April 14, 2014. -- PHOTO: REUTERS
Editor Brian McGrory and members of the newsroom applaud after the newspaper was awarded a Pulitzer Prize for breaking news in Dorchester, Massachusetts on April 14, 2014. -- PHOTO: REUTERS
Editor Anne Kornblut (left) applauds Barton Gellman (centre) after Pulitzer prizes were announced by executive editor Marty Baron in Washington on April 14, 2014. -- PHOTO: REUTERS
Editor Anne Kornblut (left) applauds Barton Gellman (centre) after Pulitzer prizes were announced by executive editor Marty Baron in Washington on April 14, 2014. -- PHOTO: REUTERS
Washington Post reporters Barton Gellman (left) and Eli Saslow address colleagues in the newsroom after the Pulitzer prizes were announced in Washington on April 14, 2014. -- PHOTO: REUTERS
Washington Post reporters Barton Gellman (left) and Eli Saslow address colleagues in the newsroom after the Pulitzer prizes were announced in Washington on April 14, 2014. -- PHOTO: REUTERS
Editor Brian McGrory hugs Metro editor Jennifer Peter after the newspaper was awarded a Pulitzer Prize for breaking news in Dorchester, Massachusetts on April 14, 2014. -- PHOTO: REUTERS
Editor Brian McGrory hugs Metro editor Jennifer Peter after the newspaper was awarded a Pulitzer Prize for breaking news in Dorchester, Massachusetts on April 14, 2014. -- PHOTO: REUTERS
Newspapers The Guardian and The Washington Post shared a Pulitzer Prize on Monday, April 14, 2014, for reporting on leaks from former National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden that revealed a global surveillance network monitoring millions o
Newspapers The Guardian and The Washington Post shared a Pulitzer Prize on Monday, April 14, 2014, for reporting on leaks from former National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden that revealed a global surveillance network monitoring millions of Americans and foreigners. -- FILE PHOTO: REUTERS

NEW YORK (AFP) - The Guardian and The Washington Post shared a Pulitzer Prize on Monday, April 14, 2014, for reporting on leaks from former National Security Agency (NSA) contractor Edward Snowden that revealed a global surveillance network monitoring millions of Americans and foreigners.

The British and American newspapers won the award for public service journalism handed out by the Pulitzer committee at Columbia University in New York for sparking debate on secretive NSA programme.

The awards evoked a similar situation in 1972 when The New York Times was recognized for publication of The Pentagon Papers, leaking details of US political and military involvement in Vietnam.

The US unit of the British newspaper was honoured for "helping through aggressive reporting to spark a debate about the relationship between the government and the public over issues of security and privacy," the committee said.

It recognized the Post for its "authoritative and insightful reports that helped the public understand how the (NSA) disclosures fit into the larger framework of national security."

The shared award went to the two newspapers credited with breaking the news about NSA surveillance programmes, without specifically citing the journalists involved.

Both newspapers relied on documents leaked by Snowden, a fugitive former NSA contractor who has been granted temporary asylum in Russia and is being sought for prosecution in the United States.

The reporters who played key roles in the story included Glenn Greenwald, who has since left the Guardian, and colleague Ewen MacAskill. Barton Gellman, who already has two Pulitzers, was the writer of most of the Washington Post reports.

Laura Poitras, a documentary filmmaker who was the point of contact for Snowden, had the unusual distinction of sharing bylines in both the Guardian and the Post on the topic.

In arguably the most influential story of the decade, The Guardian and the Post broke sensational ground by exposing how the US government monitors the data of millions.

The NSA leaks embarrassed the government, strained relations with allies angered that Americans had been tapping into the private phone calls of leaders and sparked a debate within the United States on the merits and morality of mass surveillance.

Sig Gissler, administrator of the Pulitzer Prizes since 2002, said the choice was complex and that the prize was "really not focused on Mr Snowden".

He said the two newspapers "helped stimulate this very important discussion about the balance between privacy and security and that discussion is still going on."

Snowden, in a statement released to The Guardian, said the Pulitzer decision "is a vindication for everyone who believes that the public has a role in government".

The Guardian said: "We're extremely proud and gratified to have been honoured by the Pulitzer board. It's been an intense, exhaustive and sometimes chilling year working on this story and we're grateful for the acknowledgment by our peers that the revelations made by Edward Snowden and the work by the journalists involved represent a high achievement in public service."

Post executive editor Martin Baron said the reporting exposed a national policy "with profound implications for American citizens' Constitutional rights" and the rights of individuals around the world.

Republican congressman Peter King, a member of the House intelligence committee, meanwhile expressed his disapproval on Twitter, saying: "Awarding the Pulitzer to Snowden enablers is a disgrace."

Among the other Pulitzers, The Boston Globe staff won the breaking news award "for its exhaustive and empathetic coverage of the Boston Marathon bombings and the ensuing manhunt that enveloped the city, using photography and a range of digital tools to capture the full impact of the tragedy." The New York Times won awards for breaking news photography and feature photography.

Tyler Hicks was recognized in the breaking news category "for his compelling pictures that showed skill and bravery in documenting the unfolding terrorist attack at Westgate mall in Kenya", the committee said.

Josh Haner won the prize for feature photography for a photo essay on a Boston Marathon bomb blast victim who lost most of both legs.

The Pulitzer for investigative reporting went to Chris Hamby of The Centre for Public Integrity "for his reports on how some lawyers and doctors rigged a system to deny benefits to coal miners stricken with black lung disease, resulting in remedial legislative efforts."

A second Pulitzer went to The Washington Post and Eli Saslow for explanatory journalism for reporting on the prevalence of food stamps in post-recession America.

Jason Szep and Andrew Marshall of Reuters won the Pulitzer for international reporting for coverage of the Rohingya, a Muslim minority in Myanmar.

The fiction award went to Donna Tartt for her novel The Goldfinch.