Pulitzers spotlight Snowden

Updated: 2014-04-17 11:21

By Chen Jia in San Francisco (China Daily USA)

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Though it disappointed some that former US National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden failed to be named Time magazine's Person of the Year for 2013, giving the most prestigious journalism awards to reporters who broke the leaks from Snowden is another way of highlighting the importance of the story.

The Washington Post and Guardian US were honored earlier this week with the Pulitzer Prize for public service for their articles detailing Snowden's revelations.

"Until Snowden made his disclosures to the Pulitzer winning journalists, the US government would have the world believe that China was the perpetrator of cyber-criminal activity and the US was the victim," George Koo, member of the board of directors of New AmericaMedia, told China Daily on Wednesday.

"Until Snowden revealed the vast scope of snooping activity by the NSA, the world did not know. The actual truth appears to be much more that China along with the rest of world are being victimized by aggressive cyber-attacks from the NSA," he said.

While many have commended him for his courage and willingness to put his life on the line, there were no suitable means of honoring his unselfish action taken on behalf of public interest, Koo said.

Giving the Pulitzer to the journalists that reported on the leaks from Snowden was a way of honoring their journalistic integrity in the face of hostile threats from the US government and at the same time applaud Snowden's act of conscience, he said.

Snowden's leaks since early June 2013 shocked the world with the revelation that they are under massive surveillance by the US Government through a series of NSA programs, such as PRISM, XKeyscore, Tempora, as well as the mining of telephone metadata.

According to Snowden's revelations, the NSA has hacked into China's cell phone and telecom companies, hospitals and universities, spying on Chinese leaders and businesses. Ironically, the revelations came when the US was busy trying to accuse China of being a major hacker of the US.

Huawei, China's telecom giant, was one of the core targets for the NSA spying campaign in the country. The Obama Administration has regarded the telecommunications equipment manufacturer as a threat to national security. US intelligence agencies hacked into the Chinese company's email servers five years ago.

The leaks from Snowden awakened the whole world, while the 30-year-old American had to leave the US to escape arrest.

In a video link to the annual South by Southwest (SXSW) event in Austin, Texas last month, Snowden said the US government was still in the dark about exactly what secret materials he provided to journalists.

Faced with huge international and domestic pressure, the White House urged the NSA to get out of the business of peeping in on US citizens' phone calls.

In January, the Obama administration also canceled a routine meeting with the leaders of friendly countries and allies because, according to Snowden's leaks, many US allies and 35 world leaders were also on the NSA's list of spying targets.

Stephen Duncombe, an associate professor of media and culture at New York University, told China Daily that it is very welcome news that both the Guardian and the Washington Post are being awarded Pulitzers for their reporting based upon Snowden's revelations.

"At its best, the press functions as a watchdog on the abuse of power. And although the press often fails to live up to thiscivic responsibility, in this case they did, and it is inspiring to see this recognized by the Pulitzercommittee," he said.

"One hopes that this will inspire more such reporting and - just as important - more transparency," he said.


(China Daily USA 04/17/2014 page1)