U.S. Gov't files charges against Snowden over NSA leak

Summary:The legal case of the U.S. against Edward Snowden is going into action, based on a new report.

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It has been a few weeks since news first broke about the National Security Agency's now-highly controversial PRISM program.

Now, the U.S. Government has filed a criminal complaint against Edward Snowden, the former Booz Allen Hamilton contractor who leaked information about the data mining scheme to The Guardian, according to The Washington Post.

See also: Edward Snowden saga throws up regulatory dilemmas

The Post reported the complaint is sealed, and the Justice Department hasn't commented publicly on the matter yet either.

Snowden, who is believed to be still camped out in Hong Kong, has been charged with espionage, theft and conversion of government property.

The South China Morning Post, which had the exclusive first interview with Snowden in Hong Kong, published a detailed outline last week regarding the multiple paths this case could take.

The long story short is that this will take years for the United States to actually get Hong Kong and the Chinese government to actually extradite Snowden -- if ever.

Aside from multiple political complications that will inevitably occur between Beijing and Washington, the SCMP did an extensive job of specifying how many steps (and months) on average there are along the legal process.

The news service also included a number of scenarios in which the outcome is that Snowden is set free, either to remain in Hong Kong or attempt to travel to elsewhere.

The latter option is also tricky because it would require Snowden to fly to another destination that doesn't cross U.S. air space nor has an extradition treaty with Washington.

There have been reports that Wikileaks is negotiating to move Snowden to Iceland to apply for asylum, although that would require a private jet. It is not known who would front the cost for the expensive trip.

Topics: Government : US, Legal, Privacy, Security

About

Rachel King is a staff writer for CBS Interactive based in San Francisco, covering business and enterprise technology for ZDNet, CNET and SmartPlanet. She has previously worked for The Business Insider, FastCompany.com, CNN's San Francisco bureau and the U.S. Department of State. Rachel has also written for MainStreet.com, Irish Americ... Full Bio

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