The US Department of Justice filed a lawsuit Tuesday against Edward Snowden for publishing a book, Permanent Record, in violation of non-disclosure agreements he had with the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) and National Security Agency (NSA).
The complaint alleges that the book was published without first being submitted to the agencies for review. Snowden allegedly gave public speeches on matters violating the non-disclosure agreement as well. These actions allegedly constitute a breach of contract and fiduciary obligations.
Relying on Snepp v. United States, the complaint does not seek to stop the publication of the book but rather to keep all proceeds from the book. The publisher of the book was added to the lawsuit to ensure that no funds were transferred to Snowden while the case is resolved.
Assistant Attorney General Jody Hunt stated, “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.”
This lawsuit is a civil matter, separate from criminal charges against Snowden for disclosures of classified information.
Snowden worked for the CIA from 2005 to 2009, signing three “materially identical” security agreements with them. He also worked as a contractor for the NSA at various points between 2005 and 2013, also signing three different “materially identical” agreements with them.
Snowden stated in an interview on Monday that he would like to return to the US if he can get a fair trial, referring to the government’s refusal to allow him to raise a “public interest defense.”