Oct 1, 2020 - Politics & Policy

Court orders Snowden to pay U.S. government $5.2 million from book sales

Snowden is picture on a screen next to the Web Summit logo

Edward Snowden speaks live from Russia during the annual Web Summit conference on Nov. 2019. Photo: Pedro Fiúza/NurPhoto via Getty Images

A federal court issued a ruling allowing the U.S. government to seize $5.2 million of royalties and other profits from the publication of Edward Snowden's memoir, "Permanent Record," the Justice Department announced on Thursday.

The big picture: The court's decision came in response to a lawsuit filed by the government against Snowden last year for violating non-disclosure agreements he signed with the CIA and NSA.

  • The suit alleged that Snowden published his memoir without undergoing pre-publication review for classified information.
  • The lawsuit sought to recover all money earned from the book, but did not seek to restrict publication, DOJ said.

The big picture: The lawsuit is separate from criminal charges brought against Snowden in 2013 under the Espionage Act for allegedly leaking highly classified information on government surveillance programs, the agency notes.

What they're saying: “Edward Snowden violated his legal obligations to the United States, and therefore, his unlawful financial gains must be relinquished to the government,” deputy attorney General Jeffrey Rosen said in a statement.

The other side: "This is not like he’s going to fork over the money. This gives them a judgment they were going to get anyways,” Lawrence Lustberg, one of Snowden’s lawyers, told CNN last month after he agreed to give up the proceeds from the book in a Sept. 18 filing.

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