back to article Makers of Snowden movie Citizenfour sued by ex-oil exec

The makers of Citizenfour are being sued by a man who claims the Edward Snowden film constitutes a violation of US law and national security. Horace B. Edwards is the sole named complainant in the filing (PDF) against the makers of the film and Snowden himself for alleged damages committed against the American people. "No …

  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    This is one of those "Only in America thingies" isn't it?

    As title.

    1. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge
      Holmes

      Re: This is one of those "Only in America thingies" isn't it?

      I wish I could says "yes".

      Unfortunately, in the USA, "Omnipotent State" is a Religion for some.

      You also find this kind of individual in various other uniform-loving countries, sects, houses for the insane and government buildings.

      1. Captain DaFt

        Re: This is one of those "Only in America thingies" isn't it?

        "houses for the insane and government buildings"

        Um, Getting a bit redundant there.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: This is one of those "Only in America thingies" isn't it?

      next-level negative review of film

    3. Identity
      Stop

      Re: This is one of those "Only in America thingies" isn't it?

      True that in these here Benighted States, anyone can sue anyone for anything. Often that means only extra stress, more crowded court calendars and richer lawyers. In this case, if this guy has standing, I'll eat my hat. (Fortunately, I don't wear one...)

      1. Oninoshiko

        Re: I'll eat my hat

        I agree, I don't think he has standing either. Honestly, once they get it tossed out for lack of standing, and First Amendment grounds, they need to follow it up with a complaint to the bar at his attorneys.

  2. Thesheep

    Good news everyone! I've solved Russia's financial crisis!

    Putin sues the makers of the Hunt for Red October... Yesh!

    1. big_D Silver badge

      Re: Good news everyone! I've solved Russia's financial crisis!

      And the films about the Watergate tapes and other conspiracies and whistle blowing events in American history?

  3. Jimbo in Thailand

    Horace Edwards... The best case I know of for Retroactive Birth Control!

    It's truly scary there are synapse-misfiring pro-government mental midgets like Horace Edwards who believe Edward Snowden is not a true patriot. Snowden not only risked his life, but gave up a lucrative career and a very comfortable existence to inform us ALL of the US government's out of control spying programs, etc. It follows that THE reason for the movie Citizenfour is to inform us, not profit from it.

    There's only one solution for idiots like Horace Edwards... it's called Retroactive Birth Control! FFS, during Horace Edward's birth the doctor should have instead slapped his mother for having such an imbecile for a son.

    I certainly hope his frivolous lawsuit is thrown out but the problem is this 21st Century Amerika certainly ain't my father's America, or even the one I was born and raised in, so we will just have to wait and see.

    1. Vociferous

      Re: Horace Edwards... The best case I know of for Retroactive Birth Control!

      A whistleblower may damage his country, but that's not his motivation. His motivation is exposing illegal activities.

      A traitor may expose illegal activities, but that's not his motivation. His motivation is damaging his country.

      Considering that only the first two leaks contained anything which might possibly be illegal, it's clear that Snowden is a traitor, not a whistleblower -- and DEFINITLY not a patriot.

      1. Mitoo Bobsworth

        Re: Horace Edwards... The best case I know of for Retroactive Birth Control!

        Nice troll, Horace Vociferous.

    2. I. Aproveofitspendingonspecificprojects

      The case for Retroactive birth control

      It isn't genetics. Certain people find a relatively simple man and use him as a puppet.

      Rich people get used to deference -even servitude. It give them all an unfortunate sense of omnipotence. And every country suffers from the ideals of rich people. Take for example Lord Rothermere, part owner of the Daily Mail in the 1930's. Excusing Nazi treatment of Jews and Hitler and Mussolini's 'petty crimes' in favour of their overall usefulness. That same mind-set wanted the judgement of all those young men who had had to fight the bastards over-ruled when they voted for socialism in the 1940's and kicked out the incumbents.

      I have banged this drum before but only because that man's company was salaciously determined to rule the Empire to protect Britain from the British. The USA has had similar devotees such as the cadre behind the Presidunce George the Thicketh. So it is perfectly clear that it isn't genes but money.

      Power does indeed corrupt and absolute power has no absolution. It hurts everybody.

  4. BongoJoe

    Perhaps

    we can get North Korea to release it.

  5. Vociferous

    Ironic, given the furore over The Interview.

    But he's right that Snowden is a traitor. Or more likely a Chinese spy.

    If he'd stopped leaking after his first two leaks, where he exposed potentially illegal snooping on US citizens, he'd have been a whistleblower. Instead he kept leaking details on how the US kept tabs on the dictators Assad and Putin. Those activities were neither illegal nor unethical, but in fact exactly what the NSA are supposed to do.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Ironic, given the furore over The Interview.

      "If he stopped leaking"

      AFAIAA Snowden gave *all* the info in one go. It is the journalists that are drip feeding the info to keep it in the headlines.

    2. DiViDeD Silver badge

      Re: Ironic, given the furore over The Interview.

      "the US kept tabs on the dictators Assad and Putin." And Angela Merkel, David Cameron, in fact, leading political figures in pretty much every country friendly to the US, as well as the citizens and corporations of those countries. So I guess your definition of 'dictator' is everyone except you?

    3. DDearborn

      Re: Ironic, given the furore over The Interview.

      Hmmm

      Actually the US government spying on foreign heads of state is technically, under international law, completely Illegal. Obviously, every significant intelligence service in the world does precisely the same thing. But there is a reason this is all done in secret. And keeping the subject in the dark is not the only one. It is kept secret because it is ILLEGAL. And I am sure that in the countries in which the spying actually takes place, the NSA operations are not considered legal or ethical. And again, technically speaking, it is the laws of the country in which the crime takes place that apply.

      And here is a news flash Vociferous; In the United States, the Constitution specifically demands that only after very specific requirements are met and only AFTER a Warrant issued FOR EACH INDIVIDUAL, can the government legally conduct a search. The 4th Amendment is very specific, and offers no wiggle room, or relief for the government what so ever. And in point of fact, if you read the papers of the founding fathers, the 4th Amendment was SPECIFICALLY enacted to prohibit precisely this kind of tyranny against the people. And make no mistake, the constant threat of being spied on by your own government, when you are doing absolutely nothing wrong is tyranny. It is also designed to oppress the will of the people by intimidating them not to speak out against the government.

      JFK summed up the problems and dangers with secrecy far better than I ever could:

      "The very word "secrecy" is repugnant in a free and open society; and we are as a people inherently and historically opposed to secret societies, to secret oaths and to secret proceedings. We decided long ago that the dangers of excessive and unwarranted concealment of pertinent facts far outweighed the dangers which are cited to justify it. Even today, there is little value in opposing the threat of a closed society by imitating its arbitrary restrictions. Even today, there is little value in insuring the survival of our nation if our traditions do not survive with it. And there is very grave danger that an announced need for increased security will be seized upon by those anxious to expand its meaning to the very limits of official censorship and concealment."

      1. Matt Bryant Silver badge
        FAIL

        Re: DDearborn Re: Ironic, given the furore over The Interview.

        ".....Actually the US government spying on foreign heads of state is technically, under international law, completely Illegal....." Well, yes and no. For a start, intelligence gathering and spying are two distinct and different legal topics. Spying is the clandestine effort to find out what someone or some other state or group is hiding with the intent to gain an advantage over that state or people, whereas intelligence gathering is often the analysis of 'open' material already in the public domain in the same state, and intelligence gathering is often defensive in nature and meant to detect threats to the state and the people of the state. Different countries have different laws on 'international spying' and localised 'intelligence gathering', making what one state does to another locally legal but illegal in the foreign state. For example, when the NSA scrapes details from US citizens' Facebook pages it is legal intelligence gathering on public material, whereas when the CIA plants a bug in a foreign military building it is illegal spying under that foreign country's laws. But local US law in the States makes the actions of the NSA legal in the States, whether on public or private material. The attempt you are making is to insist that there is no difference between the two and that as 'international spying' is 'illegal' in the foreign states such actions occur in all the NSA's activities are aggressive spying, when the reality is the majority is both legal and defensive.

        ".....In the United States, the Constitution specifically demands that only after very specific requirements are met and only AFTER a Warrant issued....." I suggest you go read up on the FISC (http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_States_Foreign_Intelligence_Surveillance_Court) which does issue (and regularly refuses) the warrants required by the NSA and FBI. And in the case of foreign spying, the Fourth Amendment does not necessarily apply (http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fourth_Amendment_to_the_United_States_Constitution#Foreign_intelligence_surveillance).

        And your JFK quote? As usual, taken completely out of context. The actual speech it is taken from is with regard to the spreading influence of the Warsaw Pact and the oppression of the free press by Communist states (http://www.thepowerhour.com/news3/jfk_speech_transcript.htm). In his speech, JFK compared the legal protection given US journalists that allows them to criticise the US administration by the First Amendment, not the Fourth. And that is exactly what has happened and is happening - legal journalistic criticism of administration activities. But that criticism has already investigated and found that the NSA's activities, including foreign activities, were and are legal under existing US laws (http://www2.gwu.edu/~nsarchiv/NSAEBB/NSAEBB178/surv39.pdf). The proof of that statement is that, despite many insisting otherwise (and misapplying the First and Fourth Amendments with abandon), there has been zero actual retardation of the NSA's activities (including Obambi's windrow dressing) and no legal suit has succeeded against the NSA in proving their actions illegal.

        So, to summarise - you attempted to conflate the NSA's legal defensive intelligence gathering with 'illegal' foreign spying; you misapplied the Fourth Amendment and failed to understand that the FISC does issue warrants for the NSA's activities; and you capped it off with a JFK quote that also has nothing to do with the matter. All round just a big fail from start to finish.

      2. Matt Bryant Silver badge
        FAIL

        Re: DDearborn Re: Ironic, given the furore over The Interview.

        ".....the US government spying on foreign heads of state is technically, under international law, completely Illegal....." You are attempting to conflate 'illegal' aggressive spying on foreign states with the legal and defensive intelligence gathering activities of the NSA. They are not the same. What the NSA does in the US and partner countries is legal under US laws and the laws of those partner countries. The spying on foreign states, usually done by the CIA, is illegal under the laws of those foreign states but is legal under US law, just as a foreign country's laws would make their spying on the US legal under their law but illegal under US laws.

        ".....In the United States, the Constitution specifically demands that only after very specific requirements are met and only AFTER a Warrant issued...." I suggest you go read up on the FISC, which does issue warrants for the NSA's and FBI's US activities (http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_States_Foreign_Intelligence_Surveillance_Court).

        ".....JFK summed up the problems....." That whole speech (not the small edit you selectively edited) was with regard to Communist oppression of the free press, and highlights the ability of the press in the US to freely criticise the administration under the rights given by the First Amendment (http://www.thepowerhour.com/news3/jfk_speech_transcript.htm). You have misquoted JFK, it has nothing to do with spying or the Fourth Amendment. And that open and free journalistic criticism is exactly what has happened, the problem for you is that it has already found that the NSA's activities are legal (http://www2.gwu.edu/~nsarchiv/NSAEBB/NSAEBB178/surv39.pdf).

  6. David Roberts Silver badge
    Coat

    Traitor to the USA (not America)?

    ....but hero to the free world?

    Hang on, I'll get back to you whem I can confirm exactly where the free world is.

    1. Vociferous

      Re: Traitor to the USA (not America)?

      > but hero to the free world?

      In a way. He got publicity for things which were already known (very little of what he leaked about the spying on EU citizens hadn't already been published), and it's good that it finally got EU citizens to realize that their data isn't safe. And hardening data against NSA spying automatically means it gets harder for the Russians and Chinese to steal too, which is a good thing.

      I'm not sure that outweighs the damage he did to the spying on the non-free world.

      > I'll get back to you whem I can confirm exactly where the free world is

      You should travel more. You need to spend some time in, let's say, United Arab Emirates, China, or Russia. Try criticizing the government, or get in a legal spat with an official while you're there. Because it seems as if you think you're being oppressed, living in the UK.

      1. I. Aproveofitspendingonspecificprojects

        Free World?

        The free world is where you choose to make it so. There are no barriers to your conscience. You are free to help the down and out and free to give to charity and you are free to speak your mind. This applies to all people everywhere. You are also free to murder anyone you disagree with until someone takes exception to you doing so.

        Several people have been successfully prosecuted for treachery of one sort or another. Klaus Fuchs is a particularly good example. The fact he was ignorant of the evil Russia was and still is capable of was no excuse. What was an excuse is that Russia was an ally that Churchill was (and thus all of the British at the time were) in the process of giving half of Europe to.

        Who was there to say that Churchill was the traitor?

        Our parents/grandparents were free to do so at any time and a few did.

        Yet to this day Fuchs is fucked and Churchill remains an hero.

        As for the sordid affairs of the US secret service, Oppenheimer suffered malicious persecution, not for being a spy and not even for being a communist but for being suspected of being a communist by the US secret services. We all know what sort of stupidity was rampant there in the 1950's. A place lauded as free; where you couldn't choose your own politics or beliefs.

        The free world is what you make it, not what other people tell you it is.

        1. DiViDeD Silver badge

          Re: Free World?

          "Churchill remains an hero." Might I respectfully suggest that you refrain from mentioning his heroic status in the Welsh Valleys, where he heroically ordered troops to turn their guns on striking miners, or indeed to the Kurds, who might be inclined to remind you that his proposal to drop gas bombs on them to wipe them out and thus solve the Kurdish Problem was only abandoned because the technology of the time wasn't up to it?

          Only a suggestion mind.

        2. LazarusLong

          Re: Free World?

          > The free world is what you make it, not what other people tell you it is.

          Really? I'd have thought it was where you weren't put in prison, tortured, or murdered for publicly calling your Dear Leader a corrupt ass.

      2. Lars Silver badge
        Coat

        Re: Traitor to the USA (not America)?

        "Try criticizing the government, or get in a legal spat with an official while you're there. Because it seems as if you think you're being oppressed, living in the UK."

        Sorry but that logic, as old as it is, doesn't work ever.

        My headache is not smaller because somebody in Russia has a stronger one. If I am fat then I am not less fat even if somebody in Mexico is fatter. Tell a under payed Britt he is actually well payed as there are people who get less in China. That (lack) of logic is probably from the stone age if not older.

      3. Fatman Silver badge
        Joke

        Re: Traitor to the USA (not America)?

        > I'll get back to you whem I can confirm exactly where the free world is

        I believe it is under an ice sheet in Antarctica.

    2. YouStupidBoy

      Re: Traitor to the USA (not America)?

      Free world? You must mean Mars.

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    For profit?

    > "Citizenfour portrays Defendant Snowden as a well-meaning whistleblower having nowhere else to turn, while the Hollywood Defendants justify their own acts as ones deserving of applause, when in fact the film glorifies international espionage for profit,"

    I fail to see how this flows;

    1. Blow the whistle on 'state secrets'

    2. ???

    3. Profit!

    1. Paul Crawford Silver badge

      Re: For profit?

      Underpants. You forgot the essential step in profit making...

    2. dogged

      Re: For profit?

      I found that an interesting phrase.

      One could charitably assume that they meant it to be parsed as follows -

      "the film is an attempt to profit by glorifying international espionage" since Snowden himself has certainly not profited.

      But if so, one wonders when dear Horace will sue Sony, current owners of the James Bond franchise.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: For profit?

        > But if so, one wonders when dear Horace will sue Sony, current owners of the James Bond franchise.

        If he succeeds in this lawsuit it sets a precedent whereby any film that depicts any form of crime could be considered profiteering from that crime.

        Consider how many films that would effect...

      2. Matt Bryant Silver badge
        Facepalm

        Re: dogged Re: For profit?

        ".....current owners of the James Bond franchise." So you missed the bit where the James Bond series are works of fiction.....

        Merry Christmas all!

        1. Rik Myslewski
          Joke

          Re: dogged For profit?

          "So you missed the bit where the James Bond series are works of fiction."

          Ah, that's exactly what they want you to think...

  8. Simon Lyon

    That would be a little known suburb of Berlin known as "Hollywood" then?

    The film was shot in Hong Kong, Western and Eastern Europe incl the UK, Brazil and a few other places. It was edited in, and released from, Berlin - where Laura Poitras now lives since she's gotten fed up with being harassed by US customs every time she flies back to her own country.

    This long before she ever met Snowden - she's been targeted by the US government for years due to her habit of throwing light on their warlike activities in film. Which is of course why he chose to contact her.

    I've liked every American I've ever met, truly, but it's a country of extremes. And that means that they unfortunately host some of the most idiotic twats on the planet. Case in point.

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Works 4 me

    I hope Edwards wins on all counts and that those responsible for divulging government security secrets are convicted and shot as enemies of the state. Snowden's disclosures have only hurt the world, even if some folks are too ignorant to understand.

    1. Matt Bryant Silver badge
      Meh

      Re: AC Re: Works 4 me

      ".....are convicted and shot...." A bit unlikely. Even if Snowjoke was to return to the US and stand trial, at worst he'd only serve a few years in prison. Remember, even Chelsea/Bradley Manning, a serving soldier and not a civilian like Snowjoke, got only 35 years (with parole in eight) and no firing squad, even though Manning was charged with the more severe count of aiding the enemy. As for recovering profits, didn't anyone tell Edwards that none of Poitras's dismal efforts have ever turned much of a profit? My Country, My Country only took a box office figure of $33k, so far CitzenFour has massively outperformed her earlier efforts by scraping it's way to just over $2m (http://www.boxofficemojo.com/movies/?page=main&id=citizenfour.htm), despite lashes of advertising and publicity. Indeed, the only thing keeping Poitras's film career afloat is probably the cash her rich parents provide courtesy of the family business, Highland Laboratories, Inc. (Poitras keeps her spoilt brat past quiet as it doesn't quite match with her wannabe rebel chic). As it stands, the only people that will make money off this are probably the lawyers.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Works 4 me

      Hurt the world?? Americans do have hugely inflated opinions of their place on this planet, but even that is an extreme exaggeration.

      So the extent of your meddling in the private affairs of others was exposed, it's become harder to do as a result. Do you stop and reconsider your actions in the wake of world-wide condemnation? No. Instead you carry on like before and meanwhile seek revenge on the individual who exposed your morally bankrupt (and highly illegal) operations.

      Keep it up Team America, eventually you'll have no allies left at all.

    3. Graham Marsden
      Facepalm

      Re: Works 4 me

      Says the brave Anonymous Coward...

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Well, so much for free speech in America.

    1. Matt Bryant Silver badge
      Facepalm

      Re: AC

      "Well, so much for free speech in America." Nothing to do with free speech, more to do with stopping a criminal profiting from a crime (such as this US law was intended to do - http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Son_of_Sam_law).

  11. Mark 85 Silver badge

    Irony?

    Ex-oil exec suing because someone might profit off of illegal activity, whistleblowing, traitorous behavior and . That's rich... I wonder what would happen if someone sued his former employer and him for activities they pulled?

  12. ma1010 Silver badge
    Stop

    Not really "Only in America"

    Any idiot can file a lawsuit alleging anything he wants to in most every civilized country. Just because the suit was filed does not mean the allegations are true or even remotely so. The plaintiff has the burden of proving his/her charges in court. As for this suit, I hope it gets tossed on a demurrer.

    1. A Known Coward

      Re: Not really "Only in America"

      While they can do so in most countries, what sets the US apart is that even if the case is frivolous the defendant still ends up out of pocket.

      In most civilised countries, the judge would order the plaintiff to pay the defendants legal bills (and other costs) and may even fine them for wasting the courts time. Given that system you don't bring a case to court unless you have a good chance of winning.

  13. FrankAlphaXII Silver badge

    Keep in mind that ARCO was a part of BP up until last year and they're responsible for the largest superfund site in the US. They're not exactly shining examples of corporate responsibility. Its rich that this guy wants to sue over this when he's a former representative of a company responsible for that and partially responsible for the Oil Spill in the Gulf of Mexico.

    Anyway, I seriously question how Edward Snowden was or is seeking profit. I don't quite see how he's profited. I have reservations about him but profit seeking is not one of them. Now the movie and Glenn Greenwald are a different story altogether, but Edward Snowden himself appears (on the surface at least) to not care about money.

    1. Matt Bryant Silver badge
      Pirate

      Re: FrankAlphaXII

      ".....I seriously question how Edward Snowden was or is seeking profit....." Whilst It is debatable whether Snowjoke has directly profited from his leaks, access to him has allegedly been sold (such as occurred with the SXSW vid conference, where you could listen to a private stream for free, but if you wanted to participate or just verbally fawn over Snowjoke you had to get the Gold or Premium conference package). It is still not clear if Snowjoke was paid through an intermediary for such appearances, which would legally constitute profiting from the crime of espionage.

      However, Poitras is hoping to profit (for once) from her film, and she does not have the dubious legal cover of being a journalist accorded to Greenwald, especially not when you consider she has claimed to have been involved in the actually leaking process herself. Amusingly, her documentary could actually be used as evidence in court against her and Snowjoke, especially if it contains recordings of conversations or messages where the two discuss stealing secrets (http://www.nytimes.com/2013/08/18/magazine/laura-poitras-snowden.html?pagewanted=all&_r=0).

      PS:- just for the reflexive downvoters, you may not like the facts but that doesn't stop them being true.

      1. Graham Marsden

        Re: FrankAlphaXII

        > PS:- just for the reflexive downvoters, you may not like the Matt's opinions and interpretations but that doesn't make them true.

        FTFY

        (Awaits the next round of Matt Bryant Bingo...)

        1. Matt Bryant Silver badge
          FAIL

          Re: Marsbarbrain Re: FrankAlphaXII

          "......you may not like the Matt's opinions and interpretations but that doesn't make them true....." I'm still waiting for the post when you manage to debunk anything. All you ever do is prove my points with your sulky posts.

          1. Graham Marsden

            Re: Marsbarbrain FrankAlphaXII

            Matt, as enjoyable as it is, eventually playing Chase the Goalposts with you, after repeated attempts to make you comprehend the difference between Matt Bryant's universe and the Real World, frankly gets rather tedious.

            Please feel free, as always, to declare victory.

  14. Bad Beaver

    Well, it's Christmas Day …

    … therefore I shall refrain from verbalizing any of the many negative thoughts that this causes to bubble up inside me.

  15. bexley

    Quite right too, I also suggest that we sue James bond.

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