The suit would not block the publication of Snowden’s book, which came out Tuesday, but rather seeks to prevent him from profiting from it. The suit names the book’s publishers as defendants, which DOJ said was intended only to ensure that no funds were transferred to Snowden while the lawsuit plays out.
“Edward Snowden has violated an obligation he undertook to the United States when he signed agreements as part of his employment by the CIA and as an NSA contractor,” Jody Hunt of DOJ’s Civil Division said in a statement. “We will not permit individuals to enrich themselves, at the expense of the United States, without complying with their pre-publication review obligations.”
Ben Wizner, a Snowden attorney and director of the ACLU’s Speech, Privacy, and Technology Project, said in a statement that Snowden didn’t believe the government would have reviewed his book in good faith.
He suggested the government’s lawsuit might set off the Streisand effect.
“Mr. Snowden wrote this book to continue a global conversation about mass surveillance and free societies that his actions helped inspire,” he said. “He hopes that today’s lawsuit by the United States government will bring the book to the attention of more readers throughout the world.”
On Twitter, Snowden encouraged his followers to buy “the book the government does not want you to read,” and suggested the publisher “print excerpts from the government’s furious objection to the publication of this book on the cover of every copy.”
“It is hard to think of a greater stamp of authenticity than the US government filing a lawsuit claiming your book is so truthful that it was literally against the law to write,” Snowden tweeted.
Read the lawsuit below.
This has been updated with Wizner’s statement and Snowden’s tweets.