Edward Snowden, an American whistleblower who leaked highly classified information from the National Security Agency (NSA) and the CIA back in 2013, released a book called ‘Permanent Record’ on Sept 17th. The new book of the controversial American now living in exile in Russia got hit with a lawsuit only a few hours after it was published. According to the plaintiff, the book written by the man, who exposed the U.S. government’s system of mass surveillance five years ago, violates the non-disclosure agreements he signed with both CIA and NSA.
According to the U.S. Attorney’s Office of Eastern District of Virginia, Edward Snowden failed to provide a copy of the book for pre-publication review. According to the federal executive department of the U.S. government, the book and all of its versions are in direct breach with Snowden’s obligations under the agreements he signed. The court action against Edward Snowden does not come as a surprise as most of his efforts over the last few years have been in breach of the non-disclosure agreements he signed with NSA and CIA. The main goal of the Justice Department is to prevent the whistleblower from getting access to the proceeds of the book. Being a bestseller on Amazon since day one, analysts are expecting to see millions of copies sold over the next few months.
In a press release distributed by the government department responsible for the enforcement of the law and administration of justice in the United States, the plaintiff is claiming that Snowden has given public speeches on intelligence-related matters that are believed to violate his non-disclosure agreements. According to the Justice Department, the action against the whistleblower is not meant to stop the book from being published but solely aims to recover all proceeds earned by Snowden. Multiple sources confirm that the royalties from the book will be seized, but Edward Snowden has already received the advance payment. The exact number is currently unknown.
The whistleblower now living in Russia is not the only one in the defendant list. The publishers of the book are also listed in the civil action as the plaintiff wants to ensure that no funds are transferred to Snowden, or at his direction, while the court deals with the concerns raised by the Justice Department. It is essential to highlight that those charges are separate from the criminal charges brought against Edward Snowden. According to the Justice Department, the lawsuit is a civil action solely based on Snowden’s inability to comply with the pre-publication review obligations included in his signed non-disclosure agreements.
What is in the book, and will there be more criminal charges?
While there have been multiple movie adaptations to what exactly happened with Edwards Snowden when he decided to tell the world about the mass surveillance run by the United States, the book is supposed to reveal for the first time insights on how the dissident helped to build this system and why he was moved to expose it. The description under the book on Amazon says that “Permanent Record is a crucial memoir of our digital age and destined to be a classic.” It is expected that the book will be a cause for more criminal charges against Edward Snowden.
Eduard Snowden has said on multiple occasions that he is happy to return to the homeland and face trial but is not doing so as he is afraid that he won’t receive a fair trial. Julian Assange, another whistleblower who spent nearly seven years in the Ecuadorian Embassy in London, had the same fears. After he lost the immunity given by Ecuador, Assange was arrested and is now located in the Belmarsh prison in Thamesmead, south-east London, England and is still pending trial and extradition to his homeland in Sweden where he is wanted for questioning over an alleged sexual assault, which he denies. The United States has been actively working on trying to get Assange extradited to the U.S. too.