Glenn Greenwald had previously blogged on surveillance and civil liberties for Salon and the Guardian, attracting thousands of followers with his dogged writing. Laura Poitras’s background is in documentary making, having made highly acclaimed films about Iraqis living during the US military occupation and The Oath, a film about Yemenis caught up in the War on Terror.
A lawyer by training, Greenwald built a strong reputation for detailed, forensic articles. According to the Guardian, an article by Greenwald about Poitras’s work and fears over targeting by the government was what convinced Edward Snowden to approach him with his cache of NSA files in late 2012.
Working with a range of outlets, from the Guardian to Brazil’s O Globo, Greenwald published a range of stories on the workings of the National Security Agency’s surveillance. Germany-based Poitras collaborated with Der Spiegel amongst others, generating huge debate in that country.
In August 2013, Greenwald’s partner David Miranda was detained at Heathrow Airport under terrorism legislation and had documents he had received from Poitras confiscated by UK authorities.
Interviewed by Esquire magazine, Greenwald explained why he felt it was important to uncover mass surveillance: “ultimately the reason privacy is so vital is it’s the realm in which we can do all the things that are valuable as human beings. It’s the place that uniquely enables us to explore limits, to test boundaries, to engage in novel and creative ways of thinking and being”
Join us 20 March 2014 at the Barbican Centre for the Freedom of Expression Awards