Courage Prize Recipient, 2015

James Risen, author and New York Times investigative journalist, is the recipient of the 2015 Ridenhour Courage Prize. Risen is credited for his bold and forthright reporting shedding light on government abuses and his refusal to betray his sources in the face of overwhelming pressure and legal intimidation by the Bush and Obama administrations.

In summarizing its decision to award Risen, the selection committee said, “Throughout his distinguished career, James Risen has investigated the world’s most secretive and powerful government agencies. His work has opened doors they’d prefer kept shut and shed light on clandestine and unauthorized activities. From revelations of excessive government surveillance to exposing the CIA’s controversial ‘Operation Merlin’ in Iran, his incisive reporting has highlighted the frequent contradictions between the conduct of our government and the fundamental principles of our democracy. Risen has fought bravely to protect his sources and combat pressures that would undermine his work and that of other journalists, even fighting a subpoena and vowing to go to jail if needed. We’re honored to award James Risen the 2015 Ridenhour Courage Prize for his years of fearless reporting at the highest level of American journalism, his selfless defense of the First Amendment, and for championing and defending the core principles of journalistic integrity.”

James Risen is best known for his reporting on government surveillance and the War on Terror. He was the winner of the 2006 Pulitzer Prize for national reporting for an exposé on the National Security Administration’s “Stellar Wind” program, which revealed the administration’s massive spying dragnet, as well as for his writings on the Terrorist Finance Tracking Program. He also received a Pulitzer in 2002 as a member of the New York Times reporting team that won the award for explanatory reporting for coverage on the September 11th attacks.

Risen is the author of four books: Wrath of Angels: The American Abortion War, which is the first comprehensive history of the anti-abortion movement in the United States; The Main Enemy: The Inside Story of the CIA’s Final Showdown with the KGB, which examined CIA-KGB spy wars; the national best-seller State of War: The Secret History of the CIA and the Bush Administration; and most recently, Pay Any Price: Greed, Power and Endless War, an exhaustive examination of the War on Terror and the “homeland security industrial complex.”

“I’m deeply honored to receive The Ridenhour Courage Award and am humbled to be included among its amazing recipients,” said James Risen. “It is this kind of support that sustained me during my seven-year battle with the government, and that today will drive me to continue the fight for press freedom in the United States.”

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