Since last year’s mass surveillance revelations, two journalists — Glenn Greenwald and Laura Poitras — have arguably had the most intimate access to Edward Snowden. Now, for the first time since the NSA’s actions were unveiled, they have returned to the U.S, according to flight tracking site FlightAware and Wikileaks.
Since reporting the leaks, Greenwald and Poitras have faced increasing scrutiny regarding the legality of their actions. Last year, U.S. Congressman Peter T. King stated that “legal action should be taken against” Greenwald. Then in January, U.S. Director of National Intelligence James Clapper suggested that Greenwald and Poitras were Snowden’s accomplices, not journalists.
Greenwald says he’s returning to the U.S. on principle, the Huffington Post reports.
“Certain factions in the U.S. government have deliberately intensified the threatening climate for journalists. It’s just the principle that I shouldn’t allow those tactics to stop me from returning to my own country.”
Both journalists should technically have no issue re-entering the U.S. — both are U.S. citizens — but there’s a looming fear that aggressive actions will be taken.
Numerous media heavyweights have criticized the U.S. government for its handling of the Snowden revelations, from former Washington Post executive editor Leonard Downie Jr. to former CNN reporter Bob Franken. Franken claims the Obama administration has been “the most hostile to the media” of any presidency in U.S. history.
Greenwald and Poitras stood alongside Edward Snowden during his first interview in Hong Kong. Both journalists continue to play key roles in the reporting of government surveillance practices, most recently through their involvement in eBay founder Pierre Omidyar’s First Look Media. Previously, Greenwald and Poitras reported for UK-based newspaper the Guardian and Germany-based news magazine Der Spiegel respectively.
Shortly following their arrival, both Greenwald and Poitras are scheduled to receive Polk Awards for their coverage of NSA surveillance. The two are among 30 journalists receiving the award.
Updated 12PM ET with Wikileaks confirmation.