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Feds sue Snowden for all book proceeds after revealing secret info

Edward Snowden receives the Sam Adams award for Intelligence Integrity in Moscow, Oct. 9, 2013. (Wikimedia Commons/Released)
September 17, 2019

The U.S. Department of Justice has filed a civil lawsuit against ex-National Security Agency contractor and former Central Intelligence Agency employee Edward Snowden.

The lawsuit alleges that Snowden violated NSA and CIA non-disclosure agreements by failing to submit his newly released memoir Permanent Record to reviewing agencies ahead of its publication, according to a Department of Justice press release on Tuesday.

“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,” Assistant Attorney General Jody Hunt of the Department of Justice’s Civil Division said in the press release.

“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,” Hunt added.

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Snowden’s book was released Tuesday.

The DOJ statement notes that the lawsuit is not seeking to block or inhibit the book’s release or distribution, but rather seeks to recover earnings from the book’s sales.

“Under well-established Supreme Court precedent, Snepp v. United States, the government seeks to recover all proceeds earned by Snowden because of his failure to submit his publication for pre-publication review in violation of his alleged contractual and fiduciary obligations,” the statement said.

The book’s publisher, MacMillan Publishing, and its affiliates, were also been named in the lawsuit.

Snowden, who is notorious for his leak of classified documents detailing the government’s surveillance activities, has been living in Russia to evade prosecution.

“Intelligence information should protect our nation, not provide personal profit,” said G. Zachary Terwilliger, U.S. 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.”

The civil lawsuit filed Tuesday is separate from the criminal charges previously filed against Snowden against his leaks of classified information.