Edward Snowden Charged With Espionage in Revealing NSA Surveillance Programs

Edward Snowden

The U.S. has asked Hong Kong to detain the whistle-blower on a provisional arrest warrant.

Federal prosecutors have filed a criminal complaint against National Security Agency whistle-blower Edward Snowden, who leaked several documents about secret surveillance programs earlier this year.

The Washington Post first reported on the indictment Friday, citing anonymous U.S. officials, shortly before the complaint was unsealed. 

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Snowden has been charged with espionage, theft and conversion of government property. United States officials have asked Hong Kong to detain Snowden on a provisional warrant.

The 29-year-old traveled to Hong Kong last month after leaving his job in Hawaii as a contractor with the NSA with a series of highly classified documents, detailing top-secret surveillance operations in the U.S. and the U.K. On June 9, Snowden revealed himself as the leaker in an interview with The Guardian. He said that he went to Hong Kong because it allowed him the "cultural and legal framework to allow me to work without being immediately detained."

Friday's complaint was filed in the Eastern District of Virginia, where Snowden's former employer, Booz Allen Hamilton, is headquartered.

President Obama addressed the controversial leak in an interview on PBS' Charlie Rose earlier this week.

"What I've asked the intelligence committee to do about this is to see how much of this we can declassify without further compromising the program," he said, adding that "they are in the process of doing so now."