In 1961, Kuznetsov was arrested for the first time and served seven years in Soviet prisons for making overtly political speeches in poetry readings at Mayakovsky Square in the centre of Moscow and for publishing samizdat (publishing yourself what the Soviet printing presses were forbidden from publishing, an illegal activity in USSR).
After his release, he was one of the organizers of the Dymshits–Kuznetsov hijacking affair in June 1970 and was arrested for "high treason", punishable by the death sentence. His capital punishment sentence was appealed and after international protests his sentence was replaced with fifteen years of incarceration. This affair "opened the doors of emigration to thousands of Soviet Jews." In 1970 Kuznetsov shared a prison cell with Danylo Shumuk for five years.
In 1979 he and four other dissidents were exchanged for two Soviet spies arrested in the US. Kuznetsov then emigrated to Israel. From 1983 to 1990 he was chief of the news department of "Radio Liberty". In 1992 he cofounded the Israeli Russian-language newspaper, "Vesti" ("The News"), which he edited until 1999.
Kuznetsov is a member of the Pen Club and was widely published in European, US and Israeli media. He is the author of three novels: "Prison Diary", "Mordovian Marathon" (both written secretly in prison and smuggled abroad) and "Russian Romance", all of which have been translated into many languages. In 1974, "Prison Diary" won the Gulliver Award in France, being declared the best book written by a foreign author.
In 2005 Kuznetsov participated in "They Chose Freedom", a four-part television documentary on the history of the Soviet dissident movement. He currently lives in Jerusalem, Israel and is a board member of Soviet dissident aid foundation The Gratitude Fund.
- Edward Kuznetsov biography at The Gratitude Fund
- "Next Year In Jerusalem: Price of Freedom" a documentary film about the hijacking affair, directed by group leader's daughter - Anat Kuznetsov-Zalmanson.
- Alexander Ginzburg and the Resistance to Totalitarian Evil, Then and Now, a 2002 interview with Edward Kuznetsov, Vladimir Bukovsky and Yuri Yarim-Agaev
- Gulag Day, a 2002 interview with Vladimir Bukovsky, Edward Kuznetsov, Yuri Yarim-Agaev, Paul Hollander and Richard Pipes
- (Russian) Interview with the "Memorial" society
- (Russian) Interview at Sem40
- (Russian) Biography and books at Belousenko library