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NEW YORK, Sept. 17, 2019 — The Department of Justice today filed a lawsuit against Edward Snowden over his new book entitled Permanent Record. The lawsuit alleges that Snowden published his book without submitting it to the agencies for pre-publication review, a process that prohibits millions of former intelligence-agency employees and military personnel from writing or speaking about topics related to their government service without first obtaining government approval.
Below is comment from Ben Wizner, director of the ACLU’s Speech, Privacy, and Technology Project and attorney for Snowden:
“This book contains no government secrets that have not been previously published by respected news organizations. Had Mr. Snowden believed that the government would review his book in good faith, he would have submitted it for review. But the government continues to insist that facts that are known and discussed throughout the world are still somehow classified.
“Mr. Snowden wrote this book to continue a global conversation about mass surveillance and free societies that his actions helped inspire. He hopes that today’s lawsuit by the United States government will bring the book to the attention of more readers throughout the world.”
The constitutionality of the pre-publication review system is currently being challenged in court by the ACLU and the Knight First Amendment Institute at Columbia University. The organizations argue the system gives officials far too much power to suppress speech the public has a right to hear and to make unexplained censorship decisions influenced by individuals’ viewpoints and access to power.