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U.S. Government Sues Snowden Over Memoir

Edward Snowden speaks via video link during a news conference in New York in September 2016.

The U.S. Justice Department is suing former National Security Agency (NSA) contractor Edward Snowden, alleging that his newly published memoir is in breach of nondisclosure agreements he signed with the federal government.

The U.S. government is seeking to "recover all proceeds" from Snowden's book, Permanent Record, and the lawsuit isn't an attempt to limit the book's distribution.

The civil lawsuit also names the former contractor's publisher, Macmillan, which is based in New York.

The suit maintains that Snowden should've received prepublication approval from the NSA and Central Intelligence Agency, thus violating nondisclosure agreements.

Under NSA policy, current and former employees, as well as contractors, are banned from disclosing any information obtained during their government employment.

Snowden's lawyer, Ben Wizner, said the book didn't contain government information that was not in the public domain.

Snowden was charged under the U.S. Espionage Act for leaking 1.5 million secret documents from the NSA on government surveillance, prompting public debate about the legality of some of the agency's programs, on privacy concerns, and about U.S. snooping on its neighbors.

If convicted, Snowden faces up to 30 years in prison.

He is currently in Russia, where he has a residence permit that is valid through 2020.

Based on reporting by AP and NPR