Oliver Stone and the team behind the upcoming Edward Snowden biopic may have violated federal law by making a film about his life, according to a report from government watchdog Judicial Watch.
In a report published Thursday, Judicial Watch says the Stone-directed Snowden —about the notorious former National Security Administration (NSA) contractor who handed over a trove of classified documents to online publisher Wikileaks in the summer 2013 — may be a violation of federal law because it will allow the filmmakers to profit off of Snowden’s alleged “treason.”
The film “portrays the National Security Agency (NSA) subcontractor who leaked top secret information as a courageous patriot,” Judicial Watch wrote in its report.
The Washington D.C.-based nonprofit cites University of Virginia Law School Professor Robert F. Turner, who argues that “Snowden has done incalculable damage to the NSA and, in the process, to American national security.”
It is for this reason that Judicial Watch contends that “Snowden, Stone, and the producers of a 2014 Oscar-winning Snowden film titled Citizenfour may be in violation of the Anti-Terrorism Act (ATA), which forbids providing material support or resources for acts of international terrorism. Snowden’s depiction as a ‘hero’ in the film is not surprising.”
Judicial Watch further concludes that it is “illegal to profit from [Snowden’s] crimes and the Department of Justice (DOJ) should confiscate all money made by the violators.”
“Snowden is no whistleblower. In fact he violated his secrecy agreement, which means he and his conspirators can’t materially profit from his fugitive status, violation of law, aiding and abetting of a crime and providing material support to terrorism,” the nonprofit said.
Snowden stars Joseph Gordon-Levitt as the titular hero/traitor, who fled to Russia in 2013 and is currently facing espionage charges from the United States government.
In March, the Academy Award-winning director revealed that he’d held secret meetings with Snowden in Russia to prepare for the film. Stone also said that transferred the film’s entire production to Germany to avoid possible interference from the NSA.
Snowden is in theaters on September 16, and also stars Shailene Woodley, Zachary Quinto, Scott Eastwood, and Nicolas Cage.