June 21, 2013 (TSR-Reuters) – The US has filed charges against National Security Agency (NSA) whistleblower Edward Snowden in a sealed criminal complaint dated 14 June, according to a court document made public on Friday.
Snowden was charged with theft of government property, unauthorised communication of national defence information and wilful communication of classified communications intelligence information to an unauthorised person, the document said.
Snowden, 29, is reported to be in hiding in Hong Kong.
Reports in the Washington Post also said that the US had asked Hong Kong to detain the former NSA contractor on a provisional arrest warrent.
US 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 US, the newspaper reported.
Snowden would be able to challenge the request for his extradition in court in Hong Kong.
The Post noted the US extradition treaty with Hong Kong has an exception for political offences, and that espionage has been viewed as a political offence.
Kristinn Hrafnsson, 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.