Edward Snowden wins truth-telling prize

Greg Nash

Edward Snowden has won this year’s Ridenhour Prize for Truth-Telling, the organization announced Monday. 

Organizers will try to show Snowden remotely at the awards ceremony Apr. 30 at the Washington Press Club.

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The awards committee for the organization credited Snowden and Laura Poitras, a filmmaker who has worked with the former government contractor on exposing the National Security Agency's surveillance programs.

"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 committee said.

The prize is named after the late journalist and Vietnam veteran Ronald Ridenhour, who exposed the My Lai massacre in the late 1960s.

A citizen, corporation, investigative journalist, government whistleblower or organization is eligible for the prize if they bring “a specific issue of social importance to the public’s attention.”

Earlier this year, Snowden was also nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize. The winner will be announced in October. 

After working as a contractor for the National Security Agency, Snowden has leaked highly classified U.S. government documents since last June that have revealed the scope of its data collection operations. As a result, the Obama administration has proposed significant changes to these programs. 

Snowden now faces espionage charges in the United States, and has been living in Russia since its government granted him temporary asylum last August.

Past winners of the award include Jose Antonio Vargas, who won last year for revealing his status as an illegal immigrant living in the U.S., and advocating immigration reform; and Joe Wilson, who won the prize in 2004 for challenging then-President George W. Bush’s claim that Iraq was attempting to purchase uranium from Africa, thereby validating the U.S. invasion of Iraq. Wilson is husband to former covert CIA agent Valerie Plame.