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

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.


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

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

    Well, it's about time!
  • No surprise

    But I think that the U.S. government would be ill advised to seek his extradition from China, as China could then reasonably demand that we extradite Chinese citizens accused of "revealing state secrets".

    Rightly or wrongly, Mr. Snowden is paying the price for his actions and probably will for the rest of his life. Almost certainly, he will never return home again. Certainly, no government will again trust him with its secrets; indeed, I would think private employers would be reluctant to do so as well.

    But perhaps we will be forced to reevaluate the government's current policy of outsourcing things like system administration; which I think is wrong-headed on the face.
    John L. Ries
    • Thinking about it further

      Breach of confidentiality is close to professional suicide for a system administrator. He's definitely going to need to find a new line of work wherever he happens to settle (assuming he doesn't turn himself in).
      John L. Ries
      • Bingo

        Ram U
      • Thinking About It Even Further...

        Even more than civilian contractors... a soldier is duty bound to obey his or her superior. But even within the military, there is a DUTY to disobey unlawful orders!

        To me, the critical issue isn't breach of confidentiality. We all know there has been a major (and open) breach! The critical issue is whether the government (or its agency) has engaged in unlawful behavior. And if so, whistle blowing is not necessarily espionage!
        • That's a second issue...

          ...which is still being debated as I type.

          I decline to judge Mr. Snowden, except in the unlikely event that I find myself a juror on his case (and unfortunately, I think I could give him a fair trial). I do think there need to be laws against unauthorized disclosure of classified information and my inclination remains to work within the system as much as conscionable (I'd much rather leak to a member of Congress with a clearance than to the press). But I think we all have to follow our own consciences. But don't think he's going to escape punishment. Indeed, as I explained in my initial post, the punishment has started already.

          That said, the program as it has been explained in the media, and even before the House Intelligence Committee looks a lot to me like a general search, which is exactly what the Fourth Amendment was designed to prevent. That's probably not anybody's intent (and no evidence has surfaced that the program was designed for anything but detecting terrorist plots, but the precedent is disturbing to me, nevertheless.

          Finally, while Edward Snowden appears to be guilty of mishandling classified information; it's not espionage by any reasonable definition (the statute is another matter). Unlike John Walker or Aldrich Ames, he didn't secretly disclose anything to a foreign power (hostile or otherwise), nor was he scouting out targets for Al Qaeda. As far as we know, everything he has disclosed was disclosed openly to the general public.
          John L. Ries
      • Definition of a hero

        It I cannot be heroic if there is nothing to lose.
        • Breach of confidentiality

          I certainly support the concept of breach of confidentiality and in many ways have a track record that few can match. However, when one becomes aware of criminal activities, it is one's duty to not become a part of them by remaining silent.

          When all is said and done and disclosure is complete (and you have seen nothing yet), everything will be taken into account. While silence is consent and makes one an accessory, pardons will come in great numbers for those who knowingly and unknowingly participated in the crimes, for many who have knowingly participated were under threat or were just regular human beings without the strength to stand up.

          This is not a witch hunt. It is about curing a disease. Only the incorrigible will needs to be imprisoned. We are seeing more and more defectors every day as the momentum builds. Human nature is understood and forgiveness is necessary in order to move into a new world that is not filled with hate and retribution.

          All of this has been carefully thought out in advance. What the public is now beginning to see is the final implementation of a remedial process.
          • Process in motion

          • Celebrities on Manning

  • what kind of a society do we want to live?

    You can argue that he breached a trust to do what he did. Equally you can argue that it was an even bigger breach of trust that compelled him to do it! If we do not hold our governments and their agencies to account, who will.

    I wander if the weapons we use to protect us are at times worse than those weapons we are being protected from.

    I'm really tired of the politics of fear.
  • Real issue of concern to people

    The core issue --- IBM's 'Watson' AI system reviewing us.

    The Key question is ---- Can Snowden (or his thumb-drive if he happens to 'disappear') confirm that the NSA is using IBM's 'Watson' AI system for analytics --- to review all of we Empire subjects' stolen data for evaluation of populist/progressive threats to the disguised SGE (Secret Global Empire)??
  • This had to happen.

    Snowden did a good thing by getting the security vs. privacy discussion going, but he HAD to be made an example of to stem any further leaks about information gathering details, didn't he???
  • Two observations... First, if even a hair on Snowden's head comes to harm...

    ...the civil unrest in this country will be a marvel to watch.

    Second, don't go worrying too much about Snowden's future financial options. Surely the back-room book and film deals have already begun.
  • Smoke and distractions

    Charging Snowden with espionage is a distraction from the real issue... the Government is actively compiling data on citizens who have not been charged, or even suspected, of anything. This in and of itself is nothing new. Governments always push the envelope of what is legal, or they will redefine what is legal, case in point... waterboarding.

    By the Government charging Snowden, the implication is that he is a criminal and therefore evil. Talk radio is even openly accusing him of treason, claiming his actions are support for our enemies. The low information public will believe whatever they see on the evening news and read on Twitter.

    Personally, I applaud Snowden for his courage and willingness to martyr himself, if that is fact what he's doing. With no oversight, it's unlikely the Government was going to even review the constitutionality of this massive data collection. The only way this issue was going to see the light of day is a whistle-blower. All that is necessary for evil to prevail is for good men to do nothing.
    Michael Linneer
  • Getting much bigger than the NSA

  • Revolution...

    sometimes it starts with one man.

    Patrick Henry. One man alone in the wilderness.
    Tony Burzio
  • How dare the U.S. criticize China?

    The U.S. holds itself as having higher standards. Now those standards have been shown repeatedly to be little more than window dressing they have taken to persecuting the whistleblowers. This is how Stalin got started. What is the U.S. going to do when China stops buying its funny money? The U.S can't imprison everyone. I hope Mr Snowdon and Mr Assange grow in strength and the numbers of dissidents swells so it can no longer be ignored.
    Kevin Russell