The United States is suing former CIA and NSA employee Edward Snowden for allegedly violating the nondisclosure agreement he signed before publishing his new book.
The Justice Department accuses Snowden of failing to live up to the deal to submit the draft of "Permanent Record" to both agencies, and also giving public speeches on intelligence-related matters.
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"Permanent Record" went on sale Tuesday. While the Supreme Court ruled in 1980 that the government cannot stop the publication and sale of such books, it can seize all profits Snowden could earn from it.
Under the nondisclosure agreement, Snowden was supposed to give copies to the Central Intelligence Agency and the National Security Agency for a pre-publication review. His publisher, Macmillan, is also named in the suit.
"The United States' ability to protect sensitive national security information depends on employees' and contractors’ compliance with their nondisclosure agreements," Assistant Attorney General Jody Hunt said Tuesday. "The lawsuit demonstrates that the Department of Justice does not tolerate these breaches of public trust. We will not permit individuals to enrich themselves at the expense of the United States."
Snowden fled to Russia in 2013 after leaking thousands of documents on U.S. government domestic spying and other intelligence activities.
He reacted to the lawsuit with a series of Twitter comments, saying "I'm not sure I've ever seen a book that both the CIA and the NSA consider too dangerous to read."
"It is hard to think of a greater stamp of authenticity than the U.S. government filing a lawsuit claiming your book is so truthful that it was literally against the law to write," Snowden said.
He faces espionage charges and has said he would return to the United States if he can get what he calls a fair trial.