NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden has claimed his memoir Permanent Record has been censored in China, saying it breaks the terms of his publishing agreement.
The book, published globally by Macmillan Publishers and released in September, details how he broke with the US intelligence establishment to reveal the US government wanted the means to collect data from all the phone calls, texts and emails ever sent.
Snowden, now living in Moscow, has claimed in a series of tweets that parts of the book had been altered by Chinese censors.
He wrote: “The Chinese edition of my new book, Permanent Record, has just been censored. This violates the publishing agreement, so I'm going to resist it the way I know best: it's time to blow the whistle.”
Snowden said he had seen some of the censored passages and published them online, alongside their translations. He also asked for readers’ help to identify other altered sections so they could create “a correct and unabridged version” for China.
He wrote: “Let us compile a correct and unabridged version of Permanent Record to publish freely online in Chinese, by assembling a cadre of translators to expose every shameful redaction the censors demanded. We will work in service to the greater Republic of Letters and a better internet.
Sections of the book that appear to have been cut include a detailed discussion of how authoritarianism drove people to the streets during the Arab Spring.
Other censored parts referenced China’s Great Firewall, which blocks access to foreign sites the Beijing regime feels threatened by, and the country’s own surveillance infrastructure. A passage where Snowden referred to Hong Kong as a “reasonably liberal world city” with “nominal authority” was also removed.
Books released in China are often censored to remove references to politically-charged subjects including areas like Tibet and Taiwan. Earlier this year, UK publishers told The Bookseller publications were being held-up for weeks as part of a new clampdown on books containing maps.
The Bookseller has contacted Macmillan for comment.