Citing what First Amendment advocates have called an “unconstitutional” system of controlling what federal employees can and cannot say about their work, President Donald Trump’s Justice Department on Tuesday filed a lawsuit against NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden over the publication of his new memoir.
The day the book Permanent Record was released, the DOJ filed its lawsuit claiming Snowden had published without submitting the book for “pre-publication review.”
“[Snowden] hopes that today’s lawsuit by the United States government will bring the book to the attention of more readers throughout the world.”
—Ben Wizner, ACLU
The DOJ is not seeking to block publication of the book but is instead arguing that Snowden should not profit from the story of his 2013 decision to leak files about the NSA’s phone and email spying program since he didn’t have permission from the government to share the information.
The government wants all proceeds from the book and is asking MacMillan Publishers to keep any revenue from being transferred to Snowden.
Government approval is required of federal employees before they write or speak publicly about their work—a requirement that the ACLU says has kept millions of Americans from being able to speak openly about the government.
Snowden tweeted about the lawsuit shortly after it was reported, including a link to his book’s page on Amazon and the words, “This is the book the government does not want you to read.”
“Mr. Snowden wrote this book to continue a global conversation about mass surveillance and free societies that his actions helped inspire,” said Ben Wizner, director of the ACLU’s Speech, Privacy, and Technology Project and a lawyer for Snowden. “He hopes that today’s lawsuit by the United States government will bring the book to the attention of more readers throughout the world.
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