Edward Snowden is not entitled to any profit from the sale of his memoir and the US government can instead claim the proceeds, a federal judge has found in a decision yesterday.
The National Security Agency’s head of leaks published the book, titled Permanent recording, in September, but the Justice Department immediately intervened with a lawsuit. Usually, intelligence agencies subject works to a pre-publication review process to ensure that no government secrets are disclosed.
The government argued that since Snowden had not provided the book for contractually binding review, it had no rights to any profits from the book or from its public speeches. Snowden’s lawyers countered that it would be impossible for the book to receive a good faith review from the government.
But in yesterday’s ruling, a Virginia federal judge sided with the government, saying “the contract language is clear.” The judge writes that “Snowden’s failure to participate in the pre-publication review process” made it impossible for the judge to question hypothetical decisions regarding that review.
Brett Max Kaufman, a senior attorney with the ACLU’s Center for Democracy who worked on the Snowden legal team, said in a statement he was “far-fetched” to think Snowden’s book would receive an award. fair government review.
“We don’t agree with the court’s ruling and will reconsider our options,” Kaufman said, “but it’s clearer than ever that the unfair and opaque pre-publication review system affecting millions of former government employees needs major reforms “.