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29 Apr, 2012

AP Wins Pulitzer Prize for Reports on Surveillance of New York’s Muslims


(Islam Online) 17 April 2012 – The Associated Press (AP) won a Pulitzer Prize for investigative reporting Monday for documenting the New York Police Department’s widespread spying on Muslims. The AP’s series of stories showed how New York police, with the help of a CIA official, created a unique and aggressive surveillance program to monitor Muslim neighborhoods, businesses and houses of worship.

The articles showed that police systemically listened in on sermons, hung out at cafes and other public places, infiltrated colleges and photographed law-abiding residents as part of a broad effort to prevent terrorist attacks. Individuals and groups were monitored even when there was no evidence they were linked to terrorism.

The series, which began in August, was by a team of four journalists: Matt Apuzzo, Adam Goldman, Eileen Sullivan and Chris Hawley. Their stories prompted protests, a demand from 34 members of Congress for a federal investigation, and an internal inquiry by the CIA’s inspector general.

The four winners were toasted by scores of colleagues gathered in the newsroom of the AP’s New York headquarters. “We kept reporting things that no one in the city of New York knew about,” said the AP’s executive editor, Kathleen Carroll. “That’s what I’m most proud of.”

The tactics disclosed by the series stirred debate over whether the NYPD was infringing on the civil rights of Muslims and illegally engaging in religious and ethnic profiling. Hundreds of Muslims staged rallies to protest the spying, and the disclosures prompted more than a dozen religious leaders to boycott Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s annual interfaith breakfast.

Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly and Mayor Michael Bloomberg have defended the NYPD surveillance program as a thoroughly legal tool for keeping the city safe. The Pulitzer prizes are given out annually by Columbia University on the recommendation of a board of journalists and others. Each award carries a $10,000 prize except for the public service award, which is a gold medal.