The government has sued Edward Snowden for publishing his memoir without first subjecting it to a review by the intelligence agencies for which he worked, a step that seeks to confiscate all revenue from the sale of the work.
The Department of Justice announced in a statement that it would be suing Snowden, who has released his book “Permanent Record” in 23 countries, including the United States.
The lawsuit does not seek to “stop or restrict the publication or distribution” of the book, but it does “recover all income earned by Snowden due to its failure to deliver its text for review prior to publication,” the statement said.
The civil action also affects “corporate entities involved in the publication of Snowden’s book,” according to the Department of Justice, which takes that action “only to ensure that no funds are transferred to Snowden” while the case is being resolved in court.
The lawsuit text quotes the publishing group responsible for the book in the country, MacMillan, and the parent company on which it depends, Holtzbrinck; but it does not mention the Spanish company Planeta, which edited the memoirs in Spanish.
“Edward Snowden has violated an obligation to which he committed himself to the United States when he signed agreements as part of his work in the CIA and as a contractor for the NSA,” Assistant Attorney General for Civil Affairs Jody Hunt said in the statement.
“We will not allow anyone to enrich themselves at U.S. expense without fulfilling their pre-publication review obligations,” he added.
The lawsuit, filed in federal court in Alexandria, Virginia, alleges that Snowden pledged to keep the secrets of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) and the National Security Agency (NSA) in several agreements he signed while working for those entities between 2005 and 2013.
These agreements obligated Snowden to allow these agencies to review any information he intended to publish based on confidential data “obtained as a result” of his relationship with the NSA and the CIA.
Snowden’s memoirs are a journey through his life and do not include new revelations with respect to those he already published in 2013, when he left the country loaded with 1.7 million documents that revealed to the world the NSA’s massive telephone and Internet surveillance programs.
In addition to this civil suit, the Department of Justice is still charging Snowden with criminal charges related to the publication of that information six years ago, and the 36-year-old outlaw lives in Moscow as a temporary asylum.