The former US National Security Agency (NSA) analyst took to Twitter Tuesday to blast Beijing for clipping parts of his new book that were critical of the Chinese government.
“The simplified Chinese version of my book ‘Permanent Record’ has been modified to violate the contract,” Snowden tweeted in Chinese on Monday. “Hiding the basic truth about domestic surveillance and democracy is an insult to a great social dignity. Please join me in calling on the Chinese government to allow publishers to print the original uncensored version. We will share the true version online for free for a few weeks.”
The following day, he made an appeal in English for readers of Simplified Chinese to help him translate the passages he’d identified as clipped, due to ellipses that indicate missing text. “This violates the publishing agreement, so I'm going to resist it the way I know best: it's time to blow the whistle,” he said, posting the Chinese and English pages side-by-side in a tweet thread.
According to the South China Morning Post, many of the passages removed were sharply critical of the Chinese government, while others were critical of “authoritarian states,” which SCMP judged were taken by publishers at CS Booky, the subsidiary of state-owned China South Publishing & Media that printed Snowden’s book, as implicit attacks on Chinese policies as well.
“After all, China’s government was an explicitly anti-democratic single-party state,” Snowden wrote in one of the censored sections, according to SCMP. “China’s Great Firewall was domestically censorious and repressive intended to keep its citizens in and Americans out in the most chilling and demonstrative way.”
“Authoritarian states are typically not governments of laws, but governments of leaders, who demand loyalty from their subjects and are hostile to dissent,” another passage said, the Guardian reported.
The first part of P.152. The second circle is saying: 不只是为了研究中国如何攻击我们。我的首要目的是提供一份情报分析总结，用于评价中国利用电子信息追踪美国官员及其资产操作的能力。The third is: 所有人都知道（或自以为知道）中国政府严酷的网络审查标准， pic.twitter.com/iJ3QX9FRFn— Blueee (@blueybacon) November 12, 2019
Here is the part censored in P146 and the Chinese is:— Blueee (@blueybacon) November 12, 2019
other parts are under working pic.twitter.com/clfORVKSrK
In another cut passage that seemingly discusses the Great Firewall, Snowden originally wrote, according to the Guardian, “The mechanisms and machinery required for the constant collection, storage, and analysis of the billions of daily telephone and internet communications of over a billion people was utterly mind-boggling. At first I was so impressed by the system’s sheer achievement and audacity that I almost forgot to be appalled by its totalitarian controls.”
“And before anyone asks, I will make exactly zero dollars from the Chinese edition of the book (because of the US government lawsuit), but that's alright: I didn't write this book for money,” Snowden tweeted Tuesday.
When Snowden’s memoir was first published in English in September, a civil lawsuit filed by the US Department of Justice sought to block Snowden’s collection of profits from the book’s sale. The DOJ argued that by publishing the book, the former NSA analyst was violating non-disclosure agreements he signed while working for the agency, as well as that as a fugitive from justice, he isn’t entitled to profits resulting from the publication of the information he purloined from the NSA.
"After filing this lawsuit, Henry Holt [the publisher of Snowden's book] represented and committed to the United States that, as it was not a party to any agreement with Snowden, it would not, prior to 1 April, 2020, disburse any funds to Snowden - and/or his agents, assigns, or others acting on his behalf - earned in connection with ‘Permanent Record’ that had not already been disbursed prior to the initiation of this action," the US District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia said in a court order late last month, Sputnik reported.
In June 2013, Snowden handed over to journalists a mass of classified materials that exposed the incredible depth and breadth of the NSA’s top secret civilian mass surveillance programs, the most notorious of which has become PRISM, which collected stored internet communications made via sites such as Google. Surveillance of this type is against US law without an explicit court order authorizing it.
Snowden fled the US, first to Hong Kong, then to Moscow, where he has remained, although French President Emmanuel Macron has also considered offering him asylum.