U.S. authoritIes have issued a provisional arrest warrant and filed espionage and other charges against former National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden, who exposed secret U.S. surveillance programs, a U.S. official told AFP news agency.
Confirming a report in the Washington Post, the U.S. official said that a sealed criminal complaint had been filed in federal court in Virginia and a provisional arrest warrant had also been issued.
Snowden is charged with theft of government property, unauthorized communication of national defense information, and willful communication of classified communications intelligence information to an unauthorized person, the document said.
Snowden is reported to be in hiding in Hong Kong, and the U.S. has asked Hong Kong to detain Snowden on the provisional arrest warrant, the Washington Post reported, citing unnamed officials.
The criminal complaint was filed in the Eastern District of Virginia, where Snowden’s former employer, Booz Allen Hamilton, is located, the Post reported.
Troves of documents leaked by Snowden revealed that U.S. security services had monitored data in phone calls from Verizon and Internet data from large companies such as Google and Facebook, as part of counterterrorism efforts.
Meanwhile, an Icelandic businessman linked to the anti-secrecy group WikiLeaks said on Thursday that he had readied a private plane in China to fly Snowden to Iceland if the government there would grant him asylum.
Read more: Aljazeera.com