The United States’ lawsuit does not seek to stop or restrict the publication or distribution of Permanent Record. Rather, under well-established Supreme Court precedent, Snepp v. United States, the government seeks to recover all proceeds earned by Snowden because of his failure to submit his publication for pre-publication review in violation of his alleged contractual and fiduciary obligations. The lawsuit also names as nominal defendants the corporate entities involved in publishing Snowden’s book. The United States is suing the publisher solely to ensure that no funds are transferred to Snowden, or at his direction, while the court resolves the United States’ claims. Snowden is currently living outside of the United States.
“Intelligence information should protect our nation, not provide personal profit,” said G. Zachary Terwilliger, U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia. “This lawsuit will ensure that Edward Snowden receives no monetary benefits from breaching the trust placed in him.” “Edward Snowden has violated an obligation he undertook to the United States when he signed agreements as part of his employment by the CIA and as an NSA contractor,” said Assistant Attorney General Jody Hunt of the Department of Justice’s Civil Division. “The United States’ ability to protect sensitive national security information depends on employees’ and contractors’ compliance with their non-disclosure agreements, including their pre-publication review obligations. This lawsuit demonstrates that the Department of Justice does not tolerate these breaches of the public’s trust. We will not permit individuals to enrich themselves, at the expense of the United States, without complying with their pre-publication review obligations.”
Privacy researchers obtained documents about the New York City Police Department’s use of facial recognition technology through a public records lawsuit. Any time a government agency orders documents that were obtained legally to be returned or destroyed is a threat to freedom of information and constitutional rights of reporters everywhere.
This lawsuit is separate from the criminal charges brought against Snowden for his alleged disclosures of classified information. This lawsuit is a civil action, and based solely on Snowden’s failure to comply with the clear pre-publication review obligations included in his signed non-disclosure agreements.This matter is being handled by the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Virginia and the Department of Justice’s Civil Division. The claims asserted by the United States are allegations only; there has been no determination of liability.
A copy of this press release may be found on the website of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Virginia.