Edward Snowden can’t profit from his recently released memoir because he failed to get pre-publication clearance from US security agencies, a judge ruled.
The former Central Intelligence Agency employee and National Security Agency contractor exposed top-secret surveillance programmes, including hacking of private Internet systems, in 2013. He fled to Russia, where he still lives.
In his memoir Permanent Record, which was released in September, Snowden reveals how he helped build the surveillance system and why he exposed it. The government sued to stop him from profiting from the book, although it didn’t try to prevent its publication.
By failing to submit the book to the CIA and NSA for review of classified content, Snowden violated a series of employment contracts that he signed, US district judge Liam O’Grady said in a ruling issued on Tuesday.
“Permanent Record contains information which both the CIA and NSA secrecy agreements obligated Snowden to submit for pre-publication review,” O’Grady said.
The judge rejected Snowden’s argument that the US indicated it wouldn’t review the materials in good faith and within a reasonable time. Snowden can’t make that argument because he didn’t try, O’Grady said.
“It’s far-fetched to believe that the government would have reviewed Mr Snowden’s book or anything else he submitted in good faith,” Brett Max Kaufman, a senior staff attorney with the American Civil Liberties Union’s Centre for Democracy, said in an e-mail. “It’s more clear than ever that the unfair and opaque pre-publication review system affecting millions of former government employees needs major reforms.”
Kaufman said Snowden’s legal team will review its options.
The government also accused Snowden of disclosing secret information while making public remarks at an Internet security trade fair and two college appearances. The judge ruled in favour of the US on that count, too. — Reported by Andrew Harris, (c) 2019 Bloomberg LP