When it comes to whistleblowers in the United States, one person’s criminal can be another person’s hero. Such is the case with Edward Snowden and Laura Poitras, who have been named the recipients of the annual Ridenhour Prize for truth-telling, because of their role in revealing the massive and unlawful NSA surveillance of millions of Americans.
The Ridenhour prize is in its 10th year and was named after the late Ronald L. Ridenhour, who helped exposed the massacre at My Lai during the Vietnam War. He later became an investigative journalist until his passing in 1998.
Snowden leaked scores of classified NSA surveillance documents in 2013, while in Hong Kong, and has been granted temporary asylum in Russia. He faces heavy prosecution and multiple years in jail on counts of espionage.
Poitras, who is also holed up in Russia, was the first reporter to establish encrypted contact with Snowden, and helped establish safe lines of communications with other reporters. This connection led to the exposure of the NSA’s surveillance operation.
For government officials, the work of Snowden and Poitras has gone mostly unappreciated, as it exposed their unconstitutional practices. However, the right to privacy is a right which is held in high regard amongst Americans and is outlined in the U.S. Constitution.
Amongst reporters, the work of the whistleblower, his helper and multiple other journalists who worked on the story is being celebrated.
In February, the Polk Award for National Security Reporting was issued to Poitras, Glenn Greenwald, Ewen MacAskill (The Guardian) and Barton Gellman (Washington Post), for their work on the story. The Guardian, a daily British newspaper, was also named the Newspaper of the Year at the British Press Awards, based on its coverage of the surveillance scandal. With the Pulitzer Prizes being announced in mid-April, there could be more accolades in store for Snowden and company.
At Garland & Mason, L.L.C., our attorneys have built a strong reputation for fighting for employees’ rights in whistleblower cases. If you know of a wrong and would like to expose it, contact us immediately for a free consultation. Call (732) 358-2028.