Federal judge rules US government entitled to proceeds from Edward Snowden’s memoir and speeches News
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Federal judge rules US government entitled to proceeds from Edward Snowden’s memoir and speeches

A federal judge ruled Tuesday that the federal government is entitled to proceeds from former intelligence contractor Edward Snowden’s new memoir and several speeches because he did not submit the material to federal agencies in advance.

Snowden formerly worked as a contract employee of both the Central Intelligence (CIA) Agency and the National Security Agency (NSA). As an employee of the CIA, Snowden was required to submit any writing that he contemplated disclosing to the CIA for review due to his access to classified information. Similarly, as an employee of the NSA, Snowed had access to classified information. Snowden was also required to submit “all information or materials, including works of fiction, that [he] prepared for public disclosure which contain or purport to contain, refer to, or based upon” to the NSA prior to disclosure.

Snowden has been giving public speeches since 2014. In his speeches, Snowden frequently discussed intelligence-related activities at both the NSA and CIA. His speeches also contained classified information or information on the process of classification. In addition, on August 1, 2019, Edward Snowden wrote a book titled Permanent Record, which detailed his life experiences including his times as a spy, whistleblower and an employee of both the CIA and NSA. However, prior to the release of his book, Snowden was contractually obligated to submit the book to the CIA and NSA. Since he failed to take such steps, the US government sued Snowden in the US District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia for breach of contract and fiduciary duty related to the publication of Permanent Action and speeches.

In his order, US District Judge Liam O’Grady stated the Snowden was liable for breach of contract due to explicitly violating non-disclosure agreements signed with both the NSA and CIA. In response to this order, Brett Max Kaufman, Snowden’s attorney, stated that his legal team disagrees with the outcome and is reviewing its options. He stated, “it’s farfetched to believe that the government would have reviewed Mr. Snowden’s book or anything else he submitted in good faith. For that reason, Mr. Snowden preferred to risk his future royalties than to subject his experiences to improper government censorship.”