Edward J. Snowden was sanctioned in federal court Friday after a magistrate judge found he acted in bad faith by refusing to produce documents relevant to a civil lawsuit he lost.
Mr. Snowden, a former U.S. government contractor admittedly responsible for leaking classified intelligence to the media, was sued last year after he wrote about it in his memoir.
A federal judge ruled in December against Mr. Snowden in the matter and said the U.S. government is entitled to all proceeds made from book sales and related speaking events.
Mr. Snowden refused to produce documents showing how much he was paid, however, resulting in the magistrate judge agreeing to impose sanctions sought by federal prosecutors.
“The Court must conclude that because Snowden outrightly refused to participate in civil discovery despite contrary advice from counsel and an understanding of the repercussions, Snowden has unequivocally acted in bad faith,” U.S. Magistrate Judge Theresa Carroll Buchanan ruled from U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia in Alexandria.
“Upon review of the United States’ requested sanctions—including prohibiting Snowden from introducing rebuttal evidence and deeming certain facts as established — the Court finds that such sanctions level the evidentiary playing field and that lesser sanctions (such as fines) would be inadequate to remedy the prejudice to Plaintiff,” she wrote.
That means Mr. Snowden is barred from offering any paperwork going forward to figure out how much he will ultimately be ordered to pay the U.S. government. Instead that sum will be determined by documents obtained from other sources, including specifically a spreadsheet acquired from a company that has organized dozens of paid speaking events for Mr. Snowden and was recently served with a subpoena after he personally started stonewalling the government’s requests.
Victor M. Glasberg, a lawyer representing Mr. Snowden in the case, declined to comment on the decision when reached by The Washington Times over the weekend.
Mr. Snowden, 37, was charged in 2013 with violating the U.S. Espionage Act due to leaking classified material he accessed as a contractor for the National Security Agency, or NSA.
He was outside of the U.S. when the charges were announced, and he was subsequently granted temporary asylum by Russia and has lived there ever since.
The Department of Justice sued Mr. Snowden over his memoir, “Permanent Record,” the same day it was released in September 2019. U.S. District Judge Liam O’Grady agreed three months later that its publication effectively resulted in Mr. Snowden having violated non-disclosure agreements he entered with government agencies during his career as an intelligence contractor and ordered him to forfeit proceeds made by sales of the book, as well as money earned from speaking engagements in which classified information was similarly disclosed.
Mr. Snowden said in a brief court filing last month that he did not oppose the government’s motion to sanction him for refusing to provide documents. He did not respond to a message requesting comment.