US Government Sues Edward Snowden Over Book

The American government has filed a lawsuit against former NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden in an effort to deny him payment from his newly published book, Permanent Record.

The civil lawsuit is in addition to the national security charges Snowden faces after he had to live in exile in Russia ever since 2013, after he publicly released secret documents on the NSA’s mass surveillance programmes.

The publication of the documents caused no end of embarrassment to US authorities and its allies in the Five Eyes intelligence sharing group.

Snowden lawsuit

The US filed the civil lawsuit against Snowden in the Eastern District of Virginia, in which they allege that Snowden violated non-disclosure agreements signed as a condition of employment with the CIA and NSA.

Those agreements typically require staff to submit books to the respective agencies for review, prior to publication, to ensure classified information isn’t disclosed.

Snowden is already facing criminal espionage charges and had his passport while he was at Sheremetyevo Airport in Moscow, Russia. He was granted asylum in Russia.

His book, Permanent Record was published on Tuesday by Henry Holt and Company, part of Macmillan Publishing Group, which is owned by Germany-based Holtzbrinck Publishing Group.

The US Department of Justice is suing Snowden and those three affiliated publishing entities to prevent Snowden from receiving any proceeds.

The DoJ said in a statement that the government seeks to recover all proceeds earned by Snowden because of his failure to submit his publication for pre-publication review.

No benefits

“Intelligence information should protect our nation, not provide personal profit,” said G. Zachary Terwilliger, US Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia. “This lawsuit will ensure that Edward Snowden receives no monetary benefits from breaching the trust placed in him.”

“Edward Snowden has violated an obligation he undertook to the United States when he signed agreements as part of his employment by the CIA and as an NSA contractor,” said Assistant Attorney General Jody Hunt of the Department of Justice’s Civil Division.

“The United States’ ability to protect sensitive national security information depends on employees’ and contractors’ compliance with their non-disclosure agreements, including their pre-publication review obligations. This lawsuit demonstrates that the Department of Justice does not tolerate these breaches of the public’s trust. We will not permit individuals to enrich themselves, at the expense of the United States, without complying with their pre-publication review obligations.”

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Tom Jowitt

Tom Jowitt is a leading British tech freelancer and long standing contributor to Silicon UK. He is also a bit of a Lord of the Rings nut...

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