NSA leaker Edward Snowden has been formally charged with espionage, theft, and conversion of government property.
Federal prosecutors have also asked Hong Kong to detain Snowden on a provisional arrest warrant, according to the Washington Post citing unnamed officials, which would be a precursor to a formal request for extradition.
The criminal complaint reportedly was filed under seal in the US federal court in the Eastern District of Virginia where Snowden’s former employer has its headquarters. “The US and Hong Kong have an extradition treaty in place, although Snowden can contest it in court. Prosecutors now have 60 days to file an indictment and seek to have him returned back to the US. Of course, nothing is set in stone as Snowden will most likely contest the charges and the order,” The Next Web explains.
Although Hong Kong operates semi-autonomously from the mainland Chinese government, Beijing can veto a decision by Hong Kong officials to agree to extradite a fugitive.
Snowden, the contractor who leaked the details of the massive National Security Agency PRISM domestic spying program, fled to Hong Kong from Hawaii last month, and on June 9 outed himself as the source of the bombshell revelation about internet surveillance. He previously stated that he headed to Hong Kong because of the city’s tradition of free speech.
In a recent interview wiht a Hong Kong news outlet, Snowden, 29 ,insisted that “I’m neither traitor nor hero. I’m an American.” Added Snowden: “People who think I made a mistake in picking HK as a location misunderstand my intentions. I am not here to hide from justice; I am here to reveal criminality.” As far as extradition to the US on criminal felony charges is concerned, he maintained that “My intention is to ask the courts and people of Hong Kong to decide my fate. I have been given no reason to doubt your system.’”
Do you think Edward Snowden is a traitor or a hero — or somewhere in between?