Edward Snowden, the man who launched a worldwide discussion about U.S. government surveillance tactics, has reportedly been charged for espionage, according to the Washington Post.
Government officials who spoke with the Post said the United States has sealed a criminal complaint charging Snowden with espionage, theft, and conversion of government property. In early June, Snowden provided news organizations with top secret documents regarding a government data collection program called PRISM. The documents included a slide presentation intended for NSA officials that revealed the names of numerous big-name tech companies that the government was asking to provide customer data. Another document showed a court order to Verizon requesting all call data for calls originating in the U.S. and terminating abroad, as well as all call data between wholly U.S. parties.
Snowden has been in hiding in Hong Kong, giving some press interviews. The government, according to the officials who spoke to the Post, wants Hong Kong to arrest Snowden on a provisional arrest warrant, so as not to risk him fleeing the country before extradition. Snowden has previously expressed that Hong Kong is a place for free speech and that he believes he can fight for his rights from there.
The question remains whether Snowden’s act of sharing classified information with the press and the American public can be defined as espionage.
As the Washington Post notes, prosecutors will now have to file an official injunction against Snowden within 60 days.