- The Washington Times - Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Matthew Bissonnette, a former U.S. Navy SEAL, will pay the government nearly $6.8 million to resolve a criminal probe launched after he published a book detailing his role in the 2011 raid that killed Osama bin Laden, according to court documents filed in federal court recently.

Under the terms of an agreement unveiled Friday, Mr. Bissonnette will give the government all past and future proceeds made by his book, 2012’s “No Easy Day,” in exchange for having prosecutors end a yearlong investigation launched after his firsthand account was published without being reviewed by the Pentagon.

The SEAL is expected to give the government almost $6.7 million in royalties earned so far by the book, as well as $100,000 earned from a half-dozen speeches he gave without the military’s permission in early 2013.

“This enforcement action does not discredit Mr. Bissonnette’s military service, but reinforces that it is important for our service members and individuals who have been assigned positions of trust and granted access to classified information to comply with the obligations set forth in their non-disclosure agreements to protect classified information after leaving the U.S. military and government in an effort to protect our nation’s national security,” Department of Justice spokesperson Nicole Navas said in a statement to ABC News.

Using the pen name “Mark Owen,” Mr. Bissonnette authored The New York Times bestseller without first allowing Pentagon officials to review its contents for possible references to classified information, in turn prompting the Justice Dept. to consider whether the SEAL had unlawfully disclosed any sensitive details in his book or other dealings.

In conducting that probe, federal prosecutors also began weighing whether Mr. Bissonnette had violated additional rules by consulting with three equipment manufacturers while on SEAL Team 6. The government ultimately closed that investigation in May after authorities reached a “nonprosecution agreement” with Mr. Bissonnette that resulted in his forfeiture of another $180,000 he earned in advising fees.

According to a consent decree signed last week in U.S. District Court, “the United States will release and discharge the Defendant from any and all claims for civil liability related to the publication of No Easy Day and any and all claims for civil liability related to leadership presentations Bissonnettee gave before April 23, 2013.”

Mr. Bissonnette, 40, offered a public apology as well for attempting to circumvent the military’s review process.

“I acknowledge my mistake and have paid a stiff price, both personally and financially, for that error,” he said in a statement to The New York Times. “I accept responsibility for failing to submit the book for review and apologize sincerely for my oversight.”

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