In 2013, National Security Agency subcontractor Edward Snowden released highly classified information about several global surveillance programs the agency was running, some with the cooperation of telecommunications companies.
The privacy concerns that were raised made Snowden a hero to some, a traitor to others.
We share the latter view.
In releasing the information, Snowden violated the law and the agreement he made in taking up a U.S. security clearance. He was indicted on charges of espionage and theft of government property, but fled the country for Russia before he could be apprehended and tried.
He remains a fugitive to this day.
Snowden's memoir, a book called "Permanent Record," was published Monday by MacMillan. It may well go on to be a best seller.
But we hope Snowden will not see the money.
On Tuesday, The Department of Justice filed a civil lawsuit against Snowden and the publisher, seeking to confiscate any profits due Snowden from the book. The suit charges publishing the book without prior review and approval from the NSA and the CIA is a breach of Snowden's employment contract. The suit asks all royalties be assigned to the government and that the publisher makes no attempt to transfer any funds to Snowden.
Snowden has married in the years since he fled to Russia. And as long as he chooses to remain there, he may never spend a day in prison for his crimes. But in our view he should not profit from them, either.
We hope the courts see things the same way.