The Guardian US and Washington Post each were awarded a Pulitzer Prize on Monday for their coverage of surveillance by the U.S. National Security Agency.
The newspapers' disclosures about the National Security Agency's spy programs show the government has collected information about millions of Americans' phone calls and emails based on its classified interpretations of laws passed after the Sept. 11 attacks.
The stories are based on thousands of documents handed over by NSA leaker Edward Snowden.
The Post was awarded for "its revelation of widespread secret surveillance by the National Security Agency, marked by authoritative and insightful reports that helped the public understand how the disclosures fit into the larger framework of national security," according Pulitzer.org.
The disclosures by The Guardian and The Post showed that the National Security Agency has collected information about millions of Americans' phone calls and emails based on its classified interpretations of laws passed after the 2001 terrorist attacks. The documents revealed that telephone and Internet companies such as Verizon, AT&T, Apple, Microsoft and Facebook have been cooperating with the government on these national security programs.
The reports were published by Barton Gellman of The Post and Glenn Greenwald, Laura Poitras and Ewan MacAskill of The Guardian, all of whom shared the Polk Award for national security reporting.
The disclosures have led to proposed overhauls of some U.S. surveillance programs, changes in the way the government spies on foreign allies, additional disclosures to defendants in some terrorism cases and demands from private companies to share details about government cooperation with their customers and shareholders.
Snowden has been charged with three offenses in the U.S., including espionage, and could face up to 30 years in prison if convicted. He is currently living in Russia, which granted him asylum for one year.
In January, President Barack Obama called for some immediate changes to the phone records collection program, including that a secret court approve all of the searches the NSA does within the database before the search takes place. He also limited the number of phone records it could search to phone numbers a terrorist called and the numbers who those people called.
Last month, Obama called for an end to the government's collection and storage of the records and said his administration would work with Congress to come up with a new program. Until then, the government will continue to collect and store millions of Americans phone records.
The prestigious prizes, awarded by Columbia University, are given in 14 categories of journalism as well as drama, music, poetry and books.
The winners announced on Monday are:
PUBLIC SERVICE - Two Prizes: The Guardian US and The Washington Post
BREAKING NEWS REPORTING - The Boston Globe Staff
INVESTIGATIVE REPORTING - Chris Hamby of The Center for Public Integrity, Washington, D.C.
EXPLANATORY REPORTING - Eli Saslow of The Washington Post
LOCAL REPORTING - Will Hobson and Michael LaForgia of the Tampa Bay Times
NATIONAL REPORTING - David Philipps of The Gazette, Colorado Springs, CO
INTERNATIONAL REPORTING - Jason Szep and Andrew R.C. Marshall of Reuters
FEATURE WRITING - No award
COMMENTARY - Stephen Henderson of the Detroit Free Press
CRITICISM - Inga Saffron of The Philadelphia Inquirer
EDITORIAL WRITING - The Editorial Staff of The Oregonian, Portland
EDITORIAL CARTOONING - Kevin Siers of The Charlotte Observer
BREAKING NEWS PHOTOGRAPHY - Tyler Hicks of The New York Times
FEATURE PHOTOGRAPHY - Josh Haner of The New York Times
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