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US Department of Justice sues Edward Snowden over new book

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US Department of Justice sues Edward Snowden over new book
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REUTERS/Rafael Marchante
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The US Department of Justice has sued former security contractor Edward Snowden over the publication of his new book "Permanent Record", citing it is "in violation of the non-disclosure agreements he signed with both the CIA and the NSA."

"The lawsuit alleges that Snowden published his book without submitting it to the agencies for pre-publication review, in violation of his express obligations under the agreements he signed," the Justice Department said in a press release.

They added they are not seeking to stop the release of the book but to recover proceeds Snowden may receive.

Ben Wizner, an attorney with the American Civil Liberties Union who represents Snowden, said the lawsuit was without merit.

"This book contains no government secrets that have not been previously published by respected news organizations," he said in a statement, adding that Snowden would have submitted it for review if he thought the government would review it in good faith.

Representatives for the book's publisher, Macmillan Publishers, and its unit Henry Holt & Co, did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

Earlier this week, Snowden said he would love it if French President Emmanuel Macron granted him political asylum after one of his ministers said that if it was up to her, she would offer it to him.

French Justice Minister Nicole Belloubet made the comments at the weekend but made it clear she was speaking in a personal capacity and it was not an official offer.

In an interview aired on Monday with French radio station France Inter, Snowden said he applied for asylum in France in 2013 when Francois Hollande was still president but said he would "love to see Macron roll out an invitation."

“But it’s not about France, it’s about Europe, it’s about the world and the system that we have. Protecting whistleblowers is not a hostile act. Welcoming someone like me is not an attack on the United States,” he added.

In an interview with German public-service television broadcaster ZDF, Snowden deplored Europe's policy on not protecting whistleblowers from the United States but only from countries like Saudi Arabia, China, or Russia.

"I think this is one of the saddest lessons from the story, what does it say to the next whistleblower and what does it say to the world? What does it say about ourselves when the only place where an American dissident can’t be hurt is from places that we wouldn’t expect,” he said.

Snowden is also engaged in the fight against tech giants not following privacy laws, saying some of the associated American companies have no problem spying on their clients because they don't care about European privacy law.

"It’s important to understand that these internet giants are very much acting as the deputies of government and particularly [...] many of these internet giants are not European, they are American and they don’t feel obliged to follow European law or European rights," he said.

Snowden, whose memoirs are published Tuesday, has been living in Russia since 2013 after he revealed details of secret surveillance programmes by US intelligence agencies.

He is wanted by US authorities for espionage.

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