NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden is being sued by the Justice Department over the sale of his new memoir, “Permanent Record.” But Snowden’s potential loss could be Bitcoin's gain.
“[I]n conclusion this is good for bitcoin,” Snowden wrote on Twitter yesterday, after a long day of fielding questions about the DOJ’s lawsuit.
The Justice Department claims that Snowden’s book violates NDA disclosures that the former NSA contractor signed between 2005 and 2013. And, as such, the agency claims that it is entitled to all the royalties from the sale of the books.
When news first broke of the lawsuit on Tuesday, several prominent players within the cryptocurrency industry, such as Casa CTO Jameson Lopp and ShapeShift CEO Erik Voorhees suggested on Twitter that Snowden consider using Bitcoin as a way to circumvent the DOJ’s attack. Snowden’s response seems to imply that he agrees.
Snowden worked for the CIA between 2006 and 2009. He also worked as a contractor for the NSA through 2013 but has spent the last six years living in Russia under asylum after the U.S. government charged him with leaking classified documents regarding classified domestic surveillance programs. His story continues to spark debate within the individual privacy and national security arenas.
The DOJ filed its lawsuit against Snowden in Virginia on Tuesday—the same day that Snowden’s book was due to hit the market. Under NSA policy, no contractor or employee may divulge information obtained during one’s employment to the public or any outside party, according to the DOJ’s claim. Assistant U.S. Attorney R. Trent McCotter alleges that Snowden did not obtain permission to publish the book from either the NSA or the CIA, which, he claims, will jeopardize the public’s trust in the U.S. government.
Ben Wizner, an ACLU lawyer representing Snowden, responded to the lawsuit by saying it has no merit, according to NPR. Wizner told NPR that the book does not violate any statutes or sections of past NDAs, since the information provided in the book was already known to the American public.
Voorhees responded to the news of the lawsuit by asking Snowden on Twitter asking if there was any way to purchase a physical copy of the book with Bitcoin, so he could avoid “this DOJ nonsense.” Lopp, the creator of satoshi.info, was also quick to comment on the situation:
Snowden has, in the past, been very complimentary of Bitcoin. During a Bitcoin 2019 conference earlier this year, he referred to Bitcoin as “free money.”
“Today, you’re allowed some free speech online, and the worst case, you’re going to get kicked off YouTube. You’re going to get kicked off Twitter,” he said. “This is a big level of interference, but it’s happening from private companies, rather than governments,” Snowden continued.
“We can’t do the same thing when we send money. Bitcoin is free money.”