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  • Edward Snowden speaks via video link as he takes part in a discussion about his book

    Edward Snowden speaks via video link as he takes part in a discussion about his book "Permanent Record" with German journalist Holger Stark in Berlin, Germany, September 17, 2019. | Photo: Reuters

Published 17 September 2019

“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."

The U.S. Department of Justice announced on Tuesday that they were suing NSA data leaker Edward Snowden over his new book "Permanent Record".

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"The United States today filed a lawsuit against Edward Snowden, a former employee of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) and contractor for the National Security Agency (NSA), who published a book entitled Permanent Record in violation of the non-disclosure agreements he signed with both CIA and NSA," the Justice Department began. 

While the U.S. Justice Department is not seeking to block his book from being published, they are attempting to stop him from profiting off its sales. 

"The United States’ lawsuit does not seek to stop or restrict the publication or distribution of Permanent Record. Rather, 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," they said.

“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.”

“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.”

Snowden, who is currently living in Russia, has expressed an interest in moving to France, despite the U.S.' demands that he be deported to America for leaking sensative information. 

In response to the lawsuit, Trevor Timm, the founder of the Freedom of the Press Foundation, where Snowden sits on the board of directors, slammed the U.S.' decision, saying it should be more concerned with the legal violations carried out by the U.S. government's mass surveilance programs. 

“If only the Justice Department was as concerned with the systematic legal violations carried out by the US government’s mass surveillance programs as they are about trying to blunt the impact of a personal memoir by the person who alerted to public,” Timm said in a statement. “This misguided lawsuit is all the more reason everyone should read Snowden’s book.”

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