U.S. Prepares Charges Against Alleged NSA Leaker: Sources
Edward Snowden, confessed to stealing secrets, last seen in Hong Kong hotel.
June 11, 2013 — -- The U.S. Justice Department is preparing to file criminal charges against Edward Snowden, the man who confessed to leaking top secret documents on the National Security Agency's vast surveillance programs, according to two law enforcement officials.
The sources said the U.S. government is trying to act quickly to set in motion the machinery to bring Snowden back home, as a columnist involved in breaking a series of stories based on Snowden's information says there's much more to come out.
"We have more documents that we intend to make public by writing about them journalistically," Glenn Greenwald, columnist for the U.K.'s The Guardian told ABC News. "Whether [Snowden] has additional documents that he hasn't given us is something I can't answer for him."
Snowden, a 29-year-old information technology contractor with the NSA, left the home he shared with his girlfriend in Hawaii a few weeks ago to hide out from the U.S. government in Hong Kong while The Guardian and The Washington Post published a handful of eye-opening stories allegedly based on secret documents Snowden copied and smuggled out of the NSA. Snowden then revealed himself as the leak on Sunday in a lengthy interview with The Guardian.
He was last seen in a Hong Kong hotel room, but has since checked out and disappeared into the streets of the bustling Chinese city.
He's currently wandering around unemployed since his former company, technology consulting firm Booz Allen Hamilton, said today he was fired Monday for "violations of the firm's code of ethics and firm policy." The company also disputed Snowden's claim that he made $200,000 a year for them, saying it was actually $122,000.
Despite the vanishing act, Snowden told The Guardian before he left that he has no illusions about the capabilities of those in the U.S. that want to track him down.
"I could not do this without accepting the risk of prison," he said. "You can't come up against the world's most powerful intelligence agencies and not accept the risk. If they want to get you, over time they will."
Americans Debate: Is Edward Snowden a Hero or a Traitor?
Meanwhile in the U.S., a debate is raging as to whether Snowden should be considered a hero or a threat to the nation.
"He's a traitor," Speaker of the House John Boehner, R-Ohio, told ABC News' "Good Morning America" in an exclusive interview today. "The disclosure of this information puts Americans at risk, it shows our adversaries what our capabilities are, and it's a giant violation of the law."
Boehner said he had been briefed on all of the programs revealed by Snowden's information and said that no Americans are spied on unless they're in contact with a terrorist abroad.
Greenwald called Boehner's remarks "pathetic."
"Nothing [Snowden's] disclosed in any way harms national security. Everything has been carefully vetted first by him and then by us, to make sure that there was no harm to anybody. It was only informing our fellow citizens about what it is our government is doing in the dark," he said. "We didn't reveal anything to terrorists."
But at the White House website, more than 25,000 people have signed a petition to give Snowden a blanket pardon for his alleged crimes.
There was also great praise for Snowden from another famed whistleblower, Daniel Ellsberg, who defied the Nixon administration four decades ago by leaking the Pentagon Papers about the Vietnam War.
"As for being a traitor, that's part of the price of telling the truth that the President doesn't want told," Ellsberg, now 82 years old, told ABC News. "I paid that price myself."
ABC News' Cindy Galli, Megan Chuchmach and Akiko Fujita contributed to this report.
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