Accused government whistleblower Edward Snowden is seen on the computer screen of a journalist on the internet site of the Council of Europe, as he speaks via video conference with members of the Committee on legal Affairs and Human Rights of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe during an hearing on "mass surveillance" in Strasbourg, April 8, 2014. The video feed linked Snowden, who officials said was somewhere in Moscow, Russia, with the Council of Europe in Strasbourg. REUTERS/Vincent Kessler

Exiled U.S. whistleblower Edward Snowden released a statement Monday calling the Pulitzer Prize award won by the journalists who covered his National Security Agency leaks a “vindication.”

The Guardian US (the American edition of the British paper) and the Washington Post shared the Pulitzer Prize for Public Service Monday for their work breaking the NSA scandal. Snowden met directly with Guardian journalists Glenn Greenwald and Laura Poitras in Hong Kong to break the story and fed the papers secret documents exposing wide surveillance of Americans.

Snowden issued the statement via the Freedom of the Press Foundation, of which he is now a board member. The full statement reads:

I am grateful to the committee for their recognition of the efforts of those involved in the last year's reporting, and join others around the world in congratulating Glenn Greenwald, Laura Poitras, Barton Gellman, Ewen MacAskill and all of the others at the Guardian and Washington Post on winning the Pulitzer Prize for Public Service.

Today's decision is a vindication for everyone who believes that the public has a role in government. We owe it to the efforts of the brave reporters and their colleagues who kept working in the face of extraordinary intimidation, including the forced destruction of journalistic materials, the inappropriate use of terrorism laws, and so many other means of pressure to get them to stop what the world now recognises was work of vital public importance.

This decision reminds us that what no individual conscience can change, a free press can. My efforts would have been meaningless without the dedication, passion, and skill of these newspapers, and they have my gratitude and respect for their extraordinary service to our society. Their work has given us a better future and a more accountable democracy.

The Pulitzer Prize Board praised the Guardian for its “aggressive reporting,” used to “spark a debate about the relationship between the government and the public over issues of security and privacy.”

The Public Service Pulitzer is rewarded to commend a “distinguished example of meritorious public service by a newspaper or news site.”

In January, President Barack Obama announced the first of his planned changes to the federal government’s surveillance activities, but had sharp criticisms for the former government contract worker.

“If any individual who objects to government policy can take it into their own hands to publicly disclose classified information, then we will not be able to keep our people safe,” said Obama, referring to Snowden’s unauthorized leaks.

Snowden himself was nominated by two Norwegian politicians for a Nobel Peace Prize this year. The Nobel committee is currently narrowing down candidates into a short list. Nobel laureates are chosen in October.