back to article US govt wins right to snaffle Edward Snowden's $5m+ book royalties, speech fees – and all future related earnings

The US government's Department of Justice has won its multi-million-dollar claim to Edward Snowden's Permanent Record book royalties as well as any future related earnings. A federal district court in eastern Virginia this week ruled that Uncle Sam was entitled to the proceeds of Snowden's bestseller, an estimated $5.2m, and " …

  1. amanfromMars 1 Silver badge

    Are you going to deny it, and attend and pretend it is not so?

    the Department of Justice will not overlook the wrongful actions of those who seek to betray the trust reposed in them and to personally profit from their access to classified national security information."

    :-) Oh please, you cannot be serious. You're having a laugh .... pumping and dumping that right rotten porky pie [lie]. The System is full to overflowing with insider trading dealers and dodgy crooked customers profiting from privileged information on an extremely regular daily basis. 'Tis an inherent human weakness programmed into the System for constant abuse and misuse.

    Open your eyes, Department of Justice, and stop looking the other way most all of the time. You're fooling nobody nowadays with all of that nonsense.

    1. TimMaher Silver badge
      Unhappy

      Re: Are you going to deny it, and attend and pretend it is not so?

      Yup @amfm and vindictiveness is also a very human weakness.

      Sigh...

      1. onemark03 Bronze badge

        Re: Are you going to deny it, and attend and pretend it is not so?

        And none is more vindictive than Uncle Sam - especially when he's been caught with his pants down.

      2. NoneSuch
        WTF?

        Re: Are you going to deny it, and attend and pretend it is not so?

        The Director of the NSA repeatedly lied to Congress under oath. The US government violated the US Constitution on a national scale. The person who proved they were breaking the law is the subject of an income grab by the US government because he didn't submit his book to a corrupt system for approval.

        If the USA lasts beyond 2030, I'll be surprised.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Open your eyes, Department of Justice

      open your eyes, little person, do you really think DoJ are blind? If they don't see something it's by choice, not by lack of sharp eyesight :(

      1. amanfromMars 1 Silver badge

        Re: Open your eyes, Department of Justice

        open your eyes, little person, do you really think DoJ are blind? If they don't see something it's by choice, not by lack of sharp eyesight :( ..... Anonymous Coward

        Yes, AC, we all know it is intelligent vision they lack that renders them more dim than bright. Defending the indefensible is one of their major problem, if not their major sub-prime defect.

  2. Neil Barnes Silver badge

    And how exactly

    Does the US court manage to extend its jurisdiction outwith the US? If Snowden isn't in the states, and isn't going back to the states, and doesn't deal with a stateside publisher, how does the court even know what he's earning, let alone grab the cash?

    Let it be noted that I am neither approving nor condoning Snowden's actions, but genuinely interested in the legalities here. After all, if the USA can extend its jurisdiction worldwide, then surely so can Germany, or Chad, or Brazil, or China, or Nigeria, or anywhere else I don't happen to be at present.

    I suspect that there are treaties which allow some criminal cases to be pursued outside the borders of the USA, but (a) the ones I know of seem rather one-sided and (b) with *everybody*?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: And how exactly

      There are some courts in the 'Land of the Free' that work on the assumption that US Law applies all over the world and as such and rulings like this apply even to the most remote parts of Mongolia.

      To me this is all so much welly wangling and job continuation as anything else. To be seen to be doing something/anything is goodness in the eyes of the Treasury PHB's. That will guarantee their jobs are funded for another few years.

      Call me cynical but I don't hold out them ever covering the costs of this legal action.

      As for giving lectures by Zoom now being illegal? What exactly are they smoking? Eau de Trump perhaps?

      1. MachDiamond Silver badge

        Re: And how exactly

        "As for giving lectures by Zoom now being illegal?"

        Given that there are weekly and sometimes daily news reports about Zoom sessions being hacked, I'm astonished that people still use it. Given that the alternative is Skype, .......

        Has anybody seen a simple cross-platform video chat app? Something that can be operated between just two points with no central server or where the "server" is hosted privately?

        1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

          Re: And how exactly

          "Has anybody seen a simple cross-platform video chat app? Something that can be operated between just two points with no central server or where the "server" is hosted privately?"

          Yes. It was called Skype. Then MS got their grubby paws on it :-(

        2. Down not across Silver badge

          Re: And how exactly

          Has anybody seen a simple cross-platform video chat app? Something that can be operated between just two points with no central server or where the "server" is hosted privately?

          Not exactly simple point to point chat app exactly, but there is this.

        3. martynhare

          Re: And how exactly

          Jitsi operates using HTML5 and let’s you run your own server and authentication backend. It’s also free as in both beer and freedom. They also have a public server with open access that supports private channels with password protection (but anyone can kick anyone)

    2. T. F. M. Reader Silver badge

      Re: And how exactly

      @Neil Barnes: "genuinely interested in the legalities here"

      IANAL, you need to consult a real one (L, I mean), but I can wave my hands as vigorously as the next guy.

      I assume, as a practical matter, that Snowden gets any royalties through the publisher. I assume the publisher can be leaned upon if they are American or if they ever want any product of theirs to reach American audiences. Even if Snowden's book is not distributed in the US, but other products from the same publisher are, this means the publisher has some legal presence in the US, US banks are involved, etc., and therefore a US court order may well apply ("you, Mr. Publisher, owe the US Government the fees due to an author of yours, Mr. Snowden, $5M in total, therefore your US bank account(s) and other assets are frozen until such sum is paid in full", etc., etc. - whatever the procedure is).

      Note that the US Govt has not asked to restrict the publication, and it only claims Snowden's fees, not the publisher's profits. That probably increases the chances that the publisher will co-operate smoothly, and strikes me as smart: cut off Snowden's income, but don't try to suppress information that is out there already - kinda similar to invalidating his passport as a means to travel, but not his citizenship.

      The citizenship part means, among other things, that Snowden has to declare his income to the US Govt and to pay his taxes, even on income earned outside of the US. If he doesn't he becomes guilty of breaking devil only knows how many other laws.

      treaties which allow some criminal cases to be pursued outside the borders of the USA

      This is a civil suit, completely separate from the criminal case against Snowden (check the link to the DoJ PR in the article), and maybe there is no need to pursue anything abroad, cf. above.

      1. Neil Barnes Silver badge

        Re: And how exactly

        Thanks, yeah, I'd guessed some of the above. I'm sure the publishers will be doing their damnedest to ensure that as little as possible of the cost can be allocated as Snowden's fees, and thus subject to seizure - at least in the US.

      2. MachDiamond Silver badge

        Re: And how exactly

        "therefore your US bank account(s) and other assets are frozen until such sum is paid in full", etc., etc."

        It goes further than that. Banks that participate in the SWIFT system or do business with the US so they can shift US currency have to comply with US court rulings. Many banks outside of the US will not open an account for a US citizen due to the hassle of complying with US banking laws. That really sucks since if you travel a fair amount, it's handy to open a bank account to have local access to funds without getting nailed with fees by using a card that may or may not work when you need it. Having a local account also makes it easy to deal with any problems. The toll-free number on the back of a credit card doesn't work in most other countries.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Does the US court manage to extend its jurisdiction outwith the US?

      simples, they can, and will seize

      - funds passing through a US-based company (think amazon, amazon or, perhaps, amazon, etc.)

      - transfers abroad that are conducted by means of US-controlled systems, e.g. banks, paypals, visas, etc. That's about 99% of. Unless havala, etc. ;)

      p.s. he should have made the book only available as a paper volume, shipped directly from Moscow, only upon payment of cash in self-stamped envelopes.

      And then there's the dread of every American and ex-American: the IRS.

      1. DS999 Silver badge

        Re: Does the US court manage to extend its jurisdiction outwith the US?

        They can collect everything he earns from now on assuming his publisher is in the US or US friendly country, but if the money he's already been paid is in his bank account in Russia they will never be able to get it.

        The IRS is only a problem for him if he ever leaves Russia - and he's said he won't until he's assured of a fair and public trial which the US government will never give him.

  3. The Aussie Paradox
    Black Helicopters

    One possible solution

    is, he is just paid in sexual favours. There is no way the government will take that from him.... oh wait, they do that anyway.

    Carry on. Nothing to see here.

  4. Trigun

    So if the crux of this is that he did wrong (when you boil the whole thing down) and so they're taking his money... then surely the same applies to the US government as it illegally and immorally spied on its own citizens?

    Of course, this wouldn't work, but there does appear to be some hipocrasy here.

    1. Christoph

      Plus all the extra costs for companies having to harden their comms against government intrusion - such as the taps that were put on Google's internal connections.

    2. analyzer

      No hipocrasy at all

      All governments borrow money from future taxes these days, they are not only morally bankrupt they are essentially financially bankrupt as well.

      So you could end up with all their money, but there'll be this huge -ve sign in front.

    3. MachDiamond Silver badge

      "Of course, this wouldn't work, but there does appear to be some hipocrasy here."

      "some"?

  5. Chris G Silver badge

    Department of Justice?

    Spite may be a better word, if justice was involved, there would be some facing up to and apologies for all the wrongs that Snowden's whistle blowing revealed.

    Of course American exceptionism means that they must police the world and their own population in any way they see fit and those who don't toe the curvy, constantly moving line, will be dealt with.

    What can you expect with a leader who has the mentality of a spiteful child?

    On a side note, has anyone been reading the transcripts of the Assange hearings and weak arguments made by James Lewis and others? All based on spite.

    1. amanfromMars 1 Silver badge

      Re: Department of Justice?

      On a side note, has anyone been reading the transcripts of the Assange hearings and weak arguments made by James Lewis and others? All based on spite. ..... Chris G

      Does UKGBNI have leadership with the mentality of a spiteful child considering the matter raised by your side note .....has anyone been reading the transcripts of the Assange hearings and weak arguments made by James Lewis and others? All based on spite ..... and tolerated by establishment forces, which really should know better.

      The short video clip here sums up the abomination and perversion of justice being clearly enough aided and abetted by shameful government toleration.

      Is it any wonder that future talent avoids them and their leads like the plague and would offer their services and succour elsewhere for a change that leads somewhere else by someone/something different.

      And Einstein again recently advised of the problem that most crash headlong into and get trapped in ...... We cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used when we created them.

      Many would say that is Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.

      1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

        Re: Department of Justice?

        "Does UKGBNI have leadership with the mentality of a spiteful child...?"

        Yes - but that might be considered an over-generous assessment.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Department of Justice?

          Depends if you are referring to the Justice Ministry (currently headed by Robert Buckland apparently), or the Home Office. That's currently headed by Priti Patel. A quick trip through some of her public pronouncements from the last few weeks should supply you with all the information you need to answer your question.

    2. sed gawk Silver badge

      Re: Department of Justice?

      Re: Assange, yes it's pretty bad.

      The refusal to allow proper cross-examination of prosecution evidence, doesn't bode well for him.

      It's a bit troubling that the wider media doesn't seem v interested in reporting the trial, given the implications for other journalists.

      The United Nations Special Rapporteur on Torture Nils Melzer has a rather detailed rebuttal to the accusations of rape, which seems to be the primary basis on which his case is shunned by the papers

      https://spcommreports.ohchr.org/TMResultsBase/DownLoadPublicCommunicationFile?gId=24838

      That doesn't seem to have made any difference, for example, https://www.theguardian.com/fashion/2020/sep/09/politicising-and-weaponising-are-becoming-rather-convenient-arguments

      Still makes the argument that the trial currently underway was a fiction of his imagination.

      Rather than punishment for exposing the kidnap and torture of complete innocent https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Khalid_El-Masri "https://www.tareqhaddad.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/09/2020.09.16-Assange-Extradition-Hearings-Statement-of-Khaled-El-Masry.pdf

      The poor sod is going to spend the rest of his life in a tiny windowless cell, and most of the public will not accept it, as the rape smear has done it's job. After all he's an arrogant man, so he's clearly guilty of sexual violence, despite all evidence to the contrary - including his putative accusers -

      that the forensic examination of a condom submitted as evidence, supposedly worn and torn by Mr. Assange during sexual intercourse with AA, revealed no DNA of either Mr. Assange or AA; that AA’s own conductandtext messages (including tweets) after the alleged offence fail to support the prosecution’s “rape” narrative including, inter alia: that AA insisted to continue to host Mr. Assange in her one-bedroom apartment, although several other persons expressly offered alternative accommodation for him; that AA agreed to serve as his press secretary and postedenthusiastic tweets expressing how much she enjoyed his company; that AA casually informed others about Mr. Assange’s intention to engage in sexual relations with SW, whose address and contact details were known to her, but did not warn SW or anybody else about having been sexually assaulted by Mr. Assange; that AA did not intend to report any crime against Mr. Assange, but took SW to a police station whereIK,a friend of hers,worked as a police officer, so that SW could enquire about the possibility of compelling Mr. Assange to take a HIV-test; and that AA publicly affirmed, in a tweet of 22 April 2013, that she had not been raped;that SW’s own conduct, text messagesand statements after the alleged offence not only discredit the prosecution’s “rape” narrative, but are even indicative of efforts at manipulating and instrumentalizing SW for the purpose of falsely accusing Mr. Assange, including, inter alia: that according to SW’s own words in the police report, after a brief exchange with Mr. Assange about having unprotected sex, devoid of any elements of coercion, incapacitation or deceit, SW “let him continue” to have unprotected intercourse with her, but later worried that she might have contracted HIV; that SW sent text messages during and after her questioning at the police station stating that she only wanted to get Mr. Assange to take an HIV-test, that she did not want to report any criminal offence, but was pressured into doing so by the Swedish police who were “keen to get their hands on him”, and that “it was the police who made up the charges”; and that SW refused to sign her statement, suspended her questioning and left the police station as soon as she was informed that the prosecution intended to use her testimony in order to arrest Mr. Assange on suspicion of rape.

      https://spcommreports.ohchr.org/TMResultsBase/DownLoadPublicCommunicationFile?gId=24838

      The testimony of Clive Stafford Smith is worth a read as well.

      https://www.tareqhaddad.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/09/2020.09.08-Assange-Extradition-Hearings-Statement-of-Clive-Stafford-Smith.pdf

      1. Dave314159ggggdffsdds Silver badge

        Re: Department of Justice?

        Rofl at the Assange cultism. He admitted to the rapes under oath. His defence was that they weren't criminal offences, not that they didn't happen.

        1. sed gawk Silver badge

          Re: Department of Justice?

          Post some evidence, as above shows it to be false.

          Read the links, post some rebuttal, or back under your bridge.

          The nice man from the UN has detailed rebuttal, the "victims" say it didn't happen.

          But you know better as you'll no doubt be able to back up with evidence.

          1. Dave314159ggggdffsdds Silver badge

            Re: Department of Justice?

            Assange cult lies. Your links are nonsense.

            https://www.law.cornell.edu/women-and-justice/resource/assange_v_swedish_prosecution_authority_2011_ewhc_2849

            Assange admitted raping one victim while she was asleep, and the other while she was struggling and crying, and he had to physically force himself on her.

            He then tried to argue that he'd found a legal loophole which meant these acts weren't criminal.

            In reality Assange is, and always has been, an alt-right, MRA, misogynist. You have to be demented or one of his fellow MRAs to keep denying it at this point.

            1. sed gawk Silver badge

              Re: Department of Justice?

              https://spcommreports.ohchr.org/TMResultsBase/DownLoadPublicCommunicationFile?gId=24838

              Man from UN with actual evidence vs evidence free assertion on website.

              Tough choice, but I don't buy it.

              He doesn't need to be a great human being to be innocent of a particular crime.

              Try a link to the "statement" you claim he made.

              Above are quote from the women involved, who didn't seem to make the claims, as you do.

              I doubt you are correct but again evidence, not assertion.

            2. Nunyabiznes

              Re: Department of Justice?

              JA is not alt-right. If anything he is narcissistic. Doesn't mean he is a criminal, but he might be. I'm waiting for the trial to conclude.

              1. sed gawk Silver badge

                Re: Department of Justice?

                Re: JA:

                He's undoubtedly an arsehat of the first water, but that doesn't mean he's guilty of rape.

                It seems that may not make any difference, as the defense witnesses keep showing.

                The current U.S. administration has signaled its desire to escalate prosecutions as well as “jailing journalists who publish classified information.”150 The Espionage Act’s breadthprovides such a means. While prior legislators and Attorneys General have attempted to provide reassurance that § 793 of the Act would not ever be used against the press, such reassurances are regarded as having no weight against the plain text of the law and the reality of the present day. What is now concluded, by journalists and publishers generally, is that any journalist in any country on earth—in fact any person—who conveys secrets that do not conform to the policy positions of the U.S. administration can be shown now to be liable to being charged under the Espionage Act of 1917.

                https://bridgesforfreedom.media/wp-content/uploads/2020/09/4.-Statement-of-Carey-Shenkman-1.pdf

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: It's a bit troubling that the wider media doesn't seem v interested in reporting the trial

        it's the sign of our times. The wider (and narrow) media know EXACTLY what brings views and clicks which are convertible into THE ONLY thing that matters for any business. Ranting, punches, any type of "drama" or farce, bizarre sex practices, mass-murder, or AT LEAST a family-level slaughter, preferably with guts being stretched across the house as victim tried to..., etc. - all that gives HOPE for emotional engagement from our valued audience. Assange... meh. There was a bit of excitement because RAPE, but even that has become bo-ring... And don't blame media for not being interested in reporting the trail, blame the audience.

    3. Captain Hogwash
      Coat

      Re: American exceptionism means that they must police the world

      Fuck yeah!

    4. Dave314159ggggdffsdds Silver badge

      Re: Department of Justice?

      All the wrongs? There weren't any, because Snowden was just a spy for money. The stuff he released was secret in the sense your medical records are: the data is not known to the general public, but the existence of it is.

      Snowden didn't blow the whistle on anything that wasn't common knowledge. He stole a bunch of data that was useful to the Russians and Chinese, and gave it straight to them. He knew exactly what he was doing, and clearly did it for money.

      1. sed gawk Silver badge

        Re: Department of Justice?

        You really are wearing your blinkers today.

        It wasn't common knowledge that the degree of exploits revealed by snowden were commonly used.

        It wasn't common knowledge that Merkel was being spied on by the US.

        Snowden did his country a service.

  6. s. pam
    Holmes

    Edward if you're reading this...

    The problem is easily rectified by setting up a holding company in a neutral country where he's a contractor to them.

    1. TimMaher Silver badge
      Happy

      Re: Edward if you're reading this...

      And if you establish it somewhere, oh I don’t know, like the British Virgin Islands. You can avoid tax as well!

      1. Tigra 07
        Coat

        Re: Edward if you're reading this...

        Yes, but that would be immoral Mr Jimmy Carr...

      2. Outski Bronze badge

        Re: Edward if you're reading this...

        Grand Cayman might be a better long-term bet - BVI have just announced it will establish a public register of beneficial ownership of companies incorporated there. Well, it will 'work towards' doing so, so I'd imagine that'd be once everyone's had time to shift operations.

    2. MachDiamond Silver badge

      Re: Edward if you're reading this...

      Make sure the book isn't offered by any company that has a presence in the US, is produced in China like most things and digital downloads hosted in Russia or someplace without entangling ties to the US. I expect that Ed isn't worried about receiving payment in US currency right now. He will be better off being paid in the currency of a country that doesn't have extradition treaties with the US but does have ways to establish citizenship through investment. He'd then be able to get a passport and leave Russia.

  7. Claverhouse Silver badge
    WTF?

    To The Bitter End

    It is a given that ordinary individual Americans can be astoundingly generous and welcoming; but U.S. government entities --- more so than other governments --- particularly those departments with Cold War mentalities built in, seem to be the most bitter vindictive creatures on earth.

    Even to some of their own ordinary [ non-offending ] citizens. The grasping of tax from non-residents seems sufficiently petty; but they also keep the courts busy with petty crap --- a few months back I decided never to critique their extraordinary penal system in the future except for laughs [ and for those those ludicrous multi-decade sentences ] on the grounds that is evidently what the vast majority of Americans want, pure democracy.

    Mr. Biden doubled the number of capital offences, because reasons; helped craft the Crime Bill, which ensures the numbers in the Gulag are satisfyingly heavy [ if one owns a prison ] and he is still the Democrats choice despite an exceptionally large number of better candidates, so the People are down with that.

  8. Pascal Monett Silver badge

    "deciding Snowden broke his non-disclosure agreements"

    Well duh, that's pretty much the definition of whistleblower right there.

    The fact that the US government is incapable of granting Snowden his whistleblower rights by law is a strong indication of just how little the NSA or the CIA care about law.

    And after that you expect the NSA to stop its surveillance just because some judge decided it was illegal ?

    Pah.

    1. Dave314159ggggdffsdds Silver badge

      Re: "deciding Snowden broke his non-disclosure agreements"

      He wasn't a whistoeblower, though...

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: "deciding Snowden broke his non-disclosure agreements"

        you been living under a rock?

        1. Dave314159ggggdffsdds Silver badge

          Re: "deciding Snowden broke his non-disclosure agreements"

          No. Hence why I'd heard about everything he supposedly blew the whistle on. It was all well known to anyone with the sligest interest in the subject.

          FFS Snowden claims to have blown the whistle on stuff that was publicly acknowledged in the seventies.

          1. sed gawk Silver badge

            Re: "deciding Snowden broke his non-disclosure agreements"

            Leaked "https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/EternalBlue" in the 70s, wow does shilling come with time machine privileges.

            The US agencies violated the rights of their population, held on exploits which where later used against our NHS, putting people at risk.

            It's all game, as NRPI = No Real People Involved .

            Sure be an apologist for torture, war crimes, extra-judical killings, extortion and blackmail.

  9. DuncanLarge

    Oh the irony

    You get caught spying on an unsuspecting public, breaking laws some of which are hundreds of years old, while lying under oath that you are not doing it.

    Then you use other laws to get paid for having done that very thing.

    I bet none of this money will even make it into any charities or public projects. It'll find its way to "the right people".

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Let me fix the coded message

    - As this case demonstrates, the department of Justice will overlook wrongful actions of those who betray the trust reposed in them and to personally attack those that expose treason and other high crimes""

  11. Version 1.0 Silver badge
    Joke

    Look on the bright side!

    In the US these days this means that Snowden can claim a massive tax deduction for this "loss of income" - OK, so it's not as much as Trumps losses but it does mean that Snowden can claim a big refund from Uncle Sam, and any money he earns in future will be nontaxable by the US.

    1. Dave314159ggggdffsdds Silver badge

      Re: Look on the bright side!

      Nope. He'll have to pay taxes on the confiscated earnings, though.

      1. DS999 Silver badge

        Re: Look on the bright side!

        No, you only pay taxes on actual income. You don't pay taxes on income you never received.

  12. skeptical i
    Paris Hilton

    speaking fees?

    As was pointed out above, Uncle Sam can certainly lean on the publishers of Mr. Snowden's book to garnish royalties, but the speaking fees would be harder to round up, wouldn't they? Maybe any U.S.-based company or university/college could be coerced (loss of contracts or federal funding, threats of audits just because), but entities not domiciled in Amurka?

  13. Colin Bain
    Coat

    Some are more equal than others

    So the US can spend oodles of resources on one man's relatively meagre earnings, but cannot track or trace the billions of corporate tax avoidances by Multinational companies and individuals. Oh but wait, they also donate to the politicians, I forgot that was how it works in the supposedly greatest democracy.

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