BREAKING: Edward Snowden’s Autobiography Censored in China

Andrew Zirkle|@theandrewzirkle

Edward Snowden is blowing the whistle once again. This time, however, it’s on his own book, Permanent Record.  

On late Monday night, Snowden blew the lid on an attempt to censor the simplified Chinese version of his new autobiography. The book shines a light onto the life of Snowden, who was responsible for exposing NSA and CIA mass surveillance programs back in 2013. 

Snowden Breaks The News

Snowden took to Twitter to voice his frustrations, stating, “I’m going to resist it the way I know best: it’s time to blow the whistle.” 

After revealing some of the censored passages via Twitter, Snowden enlisted the help of his Twitter followers to translate passages of the book.

Snowden also tagged a number of linguistic organizations and experts in the above Twitter thread, in a hope to “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.”

In the same Twitter thread, Snowden also noted that there were “probably” more changes that needed to be made, as the hardcopy of the Simplified Chinese edition had yet to be digitized.

Differences in Text

Censored topics include the Great Firewall of China and the country’s status as a one-party authoritarian state. A specific instance of the book being unethically amended is found on page 152. The original passage in the English edition of the book stated: 

The point of my researching this widely dispersed material was to do more than merely report on how China was hacking us, however. My primary task was to provide a summary of the IC’s assessment of China’s ability to electronically track American officers and assets operating in the region.

The significance of Snowden’s acts were downplayed in the Chinese edition, however, as the passage was revised to read:

…the point of my researching this widely dispersed material was to do more than merely report on China.

Snowden specified on his Twitter that he believed the revised passages were in violation of the publishing agreement for the book. Both Snowden and publisher of the autobiography, Metropolitan books, and did not immediately respond for comment. 


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