The Guardian is set to find out next week whether its revelations of government surveillance, based on leaked material from the whistleblower Edward Snowden, has earnt the title a coveted Pulitzer prize – while senior ministers in the UK have been warned that the leaks have caused severe damage to national security.
The Times reports that the Home Office counter-terrorism chief has passed "detailed material … to the prime minister and colleagues on how individual suspects and suspected terror cells have dropped off the intelligence radar since the publication of information on surveillance capabilities and methods".
The paper reports that Charles Farr, head of the Office for Security and Counter-Terrorism, said "the work of countering the international threat to Britain became ?more challenging and harder? last year because of the Snowden leaks".
The Guardian and the Washington Post have been widely tipped for this year's Pulitzer prize – the US's most distinguished journalism award. The recipients are due to be announced at a news conference on Monday.
Politico reported last month that the 19-member committee faced a dilemma:
Does it honor reporting by The Washington Post and The Guardian based on stolen government documents that are arguably detrimental to the national security of the United States, and which were provided by a man who many see as a traitor? Or, does it pass over what is widely viewed as the single most significant story of the year — if not the decade — for the sake of playing it safe?
The risks are manifold, and there is no easy answer: Honoring the NSA reporting — particularly in the coveted category of Public Service — would inevitably be perceived as a political act, with the Pulitzer committee invoking its prestige on behalf of one side in a bitter national argument.
Yet to pass on the NSA story would be to risk giving the appearance of timidity, siding with the government over the journalists who are trying to hold it accountable and ignoring the most significant disclosure of state secrets in recent memory.