The Justice Department has filed a civil lawsuit against Edward Snowden that would recover all proceeds of his recently released memoir, the department announced on Tuesday. The charges coincide with the official publication of the book, which is titled Permanent Record.
Snowden’s memoir was allegedly not submitted to the CIA or NSA for pre-publication review, a required practice among former employees of intelligence agencies. As such, the department considers the book a breach of Snowden’s fiduciary obligations, and names the publishers as co-defendants in the suit.
Given the still-classified programs and materials discussed in the memoir, it is unlikely that the book would have been approved for publication by the agencies. Snowden remains a de facto fugitive from the US government, and would likely face charges under the Espionage Act if he returned to the country. But the new civil case could nonetheless cause problems for Snowden, potentially enjoining his publishers from releasing any of the proceeds from the book.
Crucially, the suit does not seek to block the release of Snowden’s memoir, as doing so would be illegal under the First Amendment.