The consortium of journalists behind the Pegasus Project investigation into malware from Israel-based NSO Group has won the first top European Union journalism prize.
The first Daphne Caruana Galizia Prize for Journalism has been awarded to the consortium of reporters behind the Pegasus Project investigation.
The report into the Israeli-based NSO Group provided further evidence that its malware was used to spy on journalists, human rights activists, and political dissidents.
The Pegasus Project research was coordinated by the Paris-based journalism nonprofit Forbidden Stories, and the human rights group Amnesty International, and was shared with 16 news organisations.
Journalists were able to identify more than 1,000 individuals in 50 countries who were allegedly selected by NSO clients for potential surveillance.
This included at least 180 journalists around the world, as well as religious leaders, politicians, and military staff in India, Mexico, Hungary, Morocco, and France.
The European Parliament, which awarded the prize, praised the project as an "international journalism initiative".
"[The] unprecedented leak of more than 50,000 phone numbers selected for surveillance by the customers of the Israeli company NSO Group shows how this technology has been systematically abused for years," a statement read.
By creating transparency, investigative journalism allows voters to make informed decisions," added European Parliament President David Sassoli.
"Protecting and supporting journalists is in the vital interest of democratic societies," Sassoli said, opening the award ceremony in Brussels.
"No more fitting" recipient
The EU's inaugural €20,000 prize is named in tribute to Maltese investigative journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia, who was killed in a car bomb attack on 16 October 2017.
The award is presented by a jury of representatives of the press and civil society from the EU's 27 Member States.
The prize rewards "excellent journalism that promotes and defends the values and principles of the EU; human dignity, freedom, democracy, equality, the rule of law and human rights".
Corinne Vella, a sister of Caruana Galizia, said she would be "very proud" to see this award being presented.
"It's an award for journalists, named after a journalist, for a project involving journalists working to protect other journalists," Vella told Euronews.
"I can't right now think of a more fitting awardee for the first-ever edition of this prize."
In the last year, the number of journalists killed or murdered worldwide has doubled and Vella says that Europe still has "a long way to go".
"It's a terrible thing to see, and we would have hoped things improved sharply after Daphne's death," she told Euronews.
"Even though people are more aware of the dangers, we have yet to see the kind of drastic action that the world and Europe, in particular, needs to take to protect journalism as a profession and to protect the journalists who actually protect our right to know."
**Click on the player above to watch the full interview with **Corinne Vella.