U.S. files criminal charges against Snowden over leaks: sources

WASHINGTON Fri Jun 21, 2013 7:57pm EDT

1 of 3. NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden, an analyst with a U.S. defence contractor, is seen in this file still image taken from video during an interview by The Guardian in his hotel room in Hong Kong June 6, 2013.

Credit: Reuters/Glenn Greenwald/Laura Poitras/Courtesy of The Guardian/Handout via Reuters

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WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The government has filed sealed criminal charges against former National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden, who admitted leaking secrets about classified U.S. surveillance programs, U.S. sources said on Friday.

A U.S. Justice Department official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said a criminal complaint had been filed against Snowden, who disclosed documents detailing U.S. telephone and internet surveillance efforts.

Another U.S. source, also speaking on condition of anonymity, said the United States was preparing to seek Snowden's extradition from Hong Kong, where he is believed to be in hiding.

Earlier, the Washington Post reported that U.S. prosecutors have filed a sealed criminal complaint charging Snowden with espionage, theft and conversion of government property. The Post also reported that the United States has asked Hong Kong to detain Snowden on a provisional arrest warrant.

The criminal complaint was filed in the Eastern District of Virginia, where Snowden's former employer, Booz Allen Hamilton, is located, the Post reported.

Documents leaked by Snowden revealed that U.S. security services had monitored data about phone calls from Verizon and Internet data from large companies such as Google and Facebook as part of counterterrorism efforts.

U.S. federal prosecutors, by filing a criminal complaint, lay claim to a legal basis to make the request of the authorities in Hong Kong, the Post reported. The prosecutors now have 60 days to file an indictment and can then take steps to secure Snowden's extradition from Hong Kong for a criminal trial in the United States, the newspaper reported.

Snowden would be able to challenge the U.S. request for his extradition in court in Hong Kong, the Post reported.

The newspaper noted the U.S. extradition treaty with Hong Kong has an exception for political offenses, and that espionage has been viewed as a political offense.

An Icelandic businessman linked to the anti-secrecy group WikiLeaks said on Thursday he had readied a private plane in China to fly Snowden to Iceland if Iceland's government would grant asylum.

Iceland refused on Friday to say whether it would grant asylum to Snowden.

(Reporting by Mark Hosenball and Tabassum Zakaria; Editing by Jim Loney and Will Dunham)

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Comments (21)
blah77 wrote:
HK should deny this arrest and extadition request. Instead they should grant Snowden amnesty on the basis of political refugee and let him leave for a third party nation that is better suited to handle such persons (Iceland for example). If the Feds decide to press the case then Beijing should quickly step in and tell them to end their Asia shift and containment policy as a horse trade of sorts, obviously something Congress will never agree to. On the off chance that Congress does agree then great, we can finally seriously cut back on that bloated, obsolete and ridiculous defense budget. No more of that “blank check” approach we have been using to dish out endless streams of cash to defense contractors.

The days of nations around the world bowing to the will of the U.S. is over. The America as a force of good concept is as much a delusion as it is a reality. As an American, nothing would make me happier than to hammer some humility into certain other Americans who have let their blind “patriotic American Exceptionalist” arrogance get the best of them for so long. This Snowden situation is just a means to that end.

Jun 21, 2013 7:27pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
GeorgeWYsama wrote:
That was quick!

When WH going to charge Holder and Clapper for lies under oath?

Jun 21, 2013 7:36pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
I_Think wrote:
Just send a hit team after him and be done with him. It will also send a message to other thinking about going down the same treasonous road.

Jun 21, 2013 7:49pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
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