While this may look like a legal victory for the government, it also formalizes a negotiating process between Snowden and the U.S. government.
Snowden has long said that he would come back to face trial on Espionage Act charges, if he could mount a “conscientious objector”-type argument in court. The government has never allowed that type of defense.
The NSA whistleblower won a moral victory earlier this month when the 9th Circuit Court issued a ruling saying that NSA’s warrantless wiretapping schemes, exposed by Snowden, was “illegal.” Snowden’s unauthorized disclosures were in the public interest, the judges said.
With financial negotiations underway, legal negotiations could follow.
The money will be put in a trust, according to the plan to which Snowden and the Trump administration agreed.An attorney for Snowden said the agreement filed in court on Tuesday doesn’t mean the US government will be able to immediately collect the money, because Snowden is considering appealing the judge’s previous decision that he was liable for the disclosures.”This is not like he’s going to fork over the money.
“This gives them a judgment they were going to get anyways,” said Lawrence Lustberg, Snowden’s attorney, on Monday, noting that it may be difficult for the US government to get access to Snowden’s funds if they’re kept out of the country.
Note too, that Snowden is not really taking a damaging financial hit. The agreement allows him to keep the $4 million advance he got for writing the book. Even after coughing up a million dollars, Snowden is still financially comfortable.
And he’s gained a bit of leverage on the U.S. government.