- The Washington Times - Tuesday, September 17, 2019

The U.S. filed a civil lawsuit Tuesday against fugitive whistleblower Edward Snowden for publishing a book that the Justice Department says violates a non-disclosure agreement he signed with his former employers at the CIA and the National Security Agency.

The Justice Department claims Mr. Snowden, who also worked as an NSA contractor where he released internal record on U.S. mass surveillance efforts, did not submit the necessary information for a pre-publication review of his book “Permanent Record,” scheduled to be published Tuesday.

“The United States’ ability to protect sensitive national security information depends on employees’ and contractors’ compliance with their non-disclosure agreements,” said Assistant Attorney General Jody Hunt in a statement.

Ben Wizner, an attorney for Mr. Snowden, acknowledged that his client refrained from submitting the book for review prior to publication, adding that it does not not contain any “government secrets” that were not already made public as a result of his previous disclosures of classified documents to the media.

“Had Mr. Snowden believed that the government would review his book in good faith, he would have submitted it for review,” said Mr. Wizner, the director of the American Civil Liberties Union’s Speech, Privacy, and Technology Project. “But the government continues to insist that facts that are known and discussed throughout the world are still somehow classified.”

“It is hard to think of a greater stamp of authenticity than the US government filing a lawsuit claiming your book is so truthful that it was literally against the law to write,” Mr. Snowden added on Twitter.

The department specified that it is not attempting to stop the publication of Mr. Snowden’s book, but is seeking to obtain profits earned by the book because he did not submit to a review prior to its release.

Mr. Snowden, who is living in Russia after fleeing the U.S. in 2013, has admitted to providing a trove of classified U.S. documents to reporters, including material detailing the federal government’s surveillance operations and capabilities both domestically and abroad.

President Trump has called him a “traitor” worthy of execution, while supporters have credited him with calling attention to the NSA’s extensive, secretive surveillance apparatus.

The Justice Department is also suing his publisher, Henry Holt and Company, to block any profits from reaching Mr. Snowden.

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

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