US to Charge NSA Leaker Edward Snowden With Espionage

National Security Agency contractor disclosed secret programs run by government.

ByABC News
June 21, 2013, 8:00 PM

June 21, 2013 — -- Federal authorities have filed espionage charges against the former National Security Agency contractor who recently disclosed secret anti-terrorism programs run by the U.S. government.

A one-page criminal complaint filed on June 14 outlined the charges against 29-year-old Edward Snowden. The document was unsealed Friday night.

As a result of the charges, authorities will seek to extradite Snowden, who has been hiding in Hong Kong since fleeing overseas with a cache of sensitive U.S. documents he obtained while working with the NSA in Hawaii.

NSA Leaker Edward Snowden says that he is not a Chinese spy. Read more here.

Snowden's disclosures to The Washington Post and The Guardian in London confirmed massive government surveillance of telephone and online activity inside the United States.

U.S. officials insist the move has gravely harmed national security, while others have hailed Snowden as a hero shedding light on government overreach.

Snowden has been charged with theft of government property, unauthorized communication of national defense information, and willfully communicating classified intelligence. A government affidavit supporting the charged remained sealed.

As first reported by The Washington Post, the charges had been secretly filed in the Eastern District of Virginia, where Snowden's employer, Booz Allen Hamilton, is based.