Former intelligence contractor Edward Snowden has been sued by the U.S. Department of Justice for failing to submit his memoir, “Permanent Record”, for review before it was published. In the lawsuit, the agency said that Mr. Snowden violated his legal obligation to let censors at the Central Intelligence Agency and the National Security Agency vet the manuscript first, and demands all proceeds from the book. Assistant Attorney General Jody Hunt said in a statement, “We will not permit individuals to enrich themselves, at the expense of the United States, without complying with their prepublication review obligations.”
Mr. Snowden is arguably the most famous whistleblower of all time. In 2013, he leaked top-secret documents about N.S.A. surveillance programs, including its systematic collection of logs of Americans’ domestic phone calls, to journalists with The Guardian and The Washington Post, which published stories on them. The leak set off an international debate about government surveillance in the internet era and sparked a number of reforms. It also got Mr. Snowden charged with violations of the Espionage Act.
As he was denounced as a traitor by national security officials, Mr. Snowden fled to Russia to avoid arrest. The Russian government granted him asylum and he has been living there as a fugitive ever since. He has said in interviews that he will not voluntarily return to the U.S. because he would be unable to get a fair trial.
The lawsuit from the Justice department claims that Mr. Snowden had signed nondisclosure agreements promising to submit any future writings related to his work for the agencies to the review system as a condition of receiving access to classified information. Officials and contractors who seek security clearances routinely agree to submit writings that relate to their work for prepublication review. The agency also alleged that paid speeches had been given without submitting his planned remarks for prepublication review and said those profits should be forfeited as well. Mr. Snowden’s publisher, Macmillan, has also been named in the lawsuit as a defendant.