Glenn Greenwald -- one of the original journalists who received the leaked NSA documents from Edward Snowden that have sparked a heated debate about national security and civil liberties -- is leaving Britain's Guardian newspaper to pursue a "once-in-a-career dream journalistic opportunity."
Greenwald said in a statement Tuesday that he couldn't provide details yet because -- surprise -- the news of his departure had itself been leaked, before he and the Guardian were prepared to make an announcement. But he said the parting was on friendly terms, and he did provide some info to BuzzFeed, which got the scoop on Greenwald's departure.
Greenwald told BuzzFeed that "a very well-funded...very substantial new media outlet" has offered him a position that will involve not only reporting and writing but also the creation of "the entire journalism unit from the ground up...in the image of the journalism I respect most." He said the venture would be unveiled soon.
As outlined in The New York Times Magazine, Greenwald was one of the first people contacted by Snowden, but the journalist balked at having to deal with the encryption software Snowden wanted to use to shield their interactions. Snowden then contacted documentary filmmaker Laura Poitras, who in turn got in touch with Greenwald.
From there, Greenwald published in the Guardian the phone records and Prism stories that began the string of revelations about the US National Security Agency's vast domestic surveillance programs. Those revelations have led Congress to consider reworking the unusual, and secretive, legal mechanisms that are designed to provide oversight of the NSA.
In the months since those first stories, Greenwald has continued to publish reports in the Guardian and elsewhere based on the trove of Snowden documents to which he and Poitras have access.
In a statement Tuesday, the Guardian wished Greenwald luck and used his departure as an opportunity to stress the importance of investigative journalism:
"Glenn Greenwald is a remarkable journalist and it has been fantastic working with him. Our work together over the last year has demonstrated the crucial role that responsible investigative journalism can play in holding those in power to account. We are of course disappointed by Glenn's decision to move on, but can appreciate the attraction of the new role he has been offered. We wish him all the best."