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NSA Leaker Edward Snowden Charged with Espionage and Other Offenses — Updated: Complaint Added

NSA Leaker Edward Snowden Charged with Espionage and Other Offenses — Updated: Complaint Added

Breaking news tonight from the Washington Post:

Federal prosecutors have filed a sealed criminal complaint against Edward Snowden, the former National Security Agency contractor who leaked a trove of documents about top-secret surveillance programs, and the United States has asked Hong Kong to detain him on a provisional arrest warrant, according to U.S. officials.

Snowden was charged with espionage, theft and conversion of government property, the officials said.

The complaint was filed in the Eastern District of Virginia, a jurisdiction where Snowden’s former employer, Booz Allen Hamilton, is headquartered, and a district with a long track record in prosecuting cases with national security implications.

At issue in this case will be whether or not Hong Kong will agree to extradition.  While cooperation has been good in the past with Hong Kong, their treaty with the US makes exception for political offenses, a category for which espionage has often applied.

Also from the Washington Post:

The United States has an extradition treaty with Hong Kong, and U.S. officials said cooperation with the Chinese territory, which enjoys some autonomy from Beijing, has been good in previous cases.

The treaty, however, has an exception for political offenses, and espionage has traditionally been treated as a political offense. Snowden’s defense team in Hong Kong is likely to invoke part of the extradition treaty with the United States, which states that suspects will not be turned over to face criminal trial for offenses of a “political character.”

Snowden could also remain in Hong Kong if the Chinese government decides that it is not in the defense or foreign policy interests of the government in Beijing to have him sent back to the United States for trial.

Snowden could also apply for asylum in Hong Kong, or attempt to reach another jurisdiction and seek asylum there before the authorities in Hong Kong act.

UPDATED 6/21/2013 at 8:30pm EST:  Initial complaint, now unsealed, added.  Remainder of case remains sealed.

U.S. v. Snowden PACER case sealed

U.S. v. Edward Snowden Criminal Complaint


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9thDistrictNeighbor | June 21, 2013 at 7:21 pm

The criminal complaint is sealed. Well, at least there’s still something that’s kept private around here….

Snowden could really mess with their heads and surrender. Imagine an espionage trial where the government says the “secrets” are all lies.

Why am I not surprised? I think it’s sealed because the secrets that have been revealed might be revealed otherwise….

The inanity and hypocrisy of this administration knows no bounds.

BannedbytheGuardian | June 21, 2013 at 9:05 pm

As I thought. The world is a smaller place then that of Philby sitting out his days in a tiny Moscow flat.

He is finished . I think he will suicide.

I love the attempt to frame the conversation by controlling the language. NSA Leaker? How about Whistle Blower. He hasn’t leaked more than necessary than to establish what appears to be illegal and even criminal conduct at the NSA. The NSA and the administration have “leaked” lots of info on operations to justify their position — vast amounts more than Snowden, and we have already established that NSA has perjured itself under oath before congress. It seems that no day goes by where another aspect of Snowdens charges are vindicated and the administrations dances around the truth become more blatant.

Seriously, no one thinks Snowden is a leaker or a traitor, give it up, you’ve already lost the argument. You might want to focus in on the administrations conduct rather than the Hero Snowden. Why the republicans are throwing themselves under the bus for Obama’s unconstitutional searches is beyond me.

    BannedbytheGuardian in reply to imfine. | June 21, 2013 at 11:05 pm

    Some of what you say is true.

    However people in Hong Kong just want to shop. Please take him back.

I agree.
He has not placed the country in jeopardy like the President did with Benghazi, F&F or Bin Laden.
He hasn’t revealed the structural mechanics or specifics of it, or any information gleaned from it.
Only identified it, and brought it to light.
But, well, I don’t know where this will go.
What a really think is that Snowden himself, is pretty much irrelevant. He just brought it up.
Now, we have to deal with the issues raised by unlawful search and seizure, first amendment stuff, and contract law.
A really ” Appealing ” can of worms.

BannedbytheGuardian | June 21, 2013 at 11:44 pm

So the latest is that an Icelandic businessman is hiring a charter plane to whisk him off to the land of Ice.

Ho ho – it will need to stop & refuel & Snowden’s embassyspeak kof being ‘indicted en route ‘ may occur.

I am always up for a good story so Mr ice Man – bring it on . The quickest route would be over Alaska / Russian waters . Of he might get shot down by Migs if he strays into Russia airspace or by f- 16s ( it would be too optimistic to hope for a f – 35. Oh with any F plane.

Bring it on .

So the administration used “Unauthorized communication of national defense information” as a charge. Is that legalese for: “we got caught with our hands in the cookie jar and now we’re going to punish the guy who exposed us”?

Gee, it sure would be nice to see a criminal complaint that listed : Unauthorized spying on American citizens.

    Jack Long in reply to Sanddog. | June 22, 2013 at 12:36 pm

    we got caught with our hands in the cookie jar…

    It’s more like: “We got caught with our hand in YOUR cookie jar and we want the guy who told you about it.”

    Is the indictment a catch-22 in that it substantiates a crime by the requestor of extradition against the issuer of extradition?

What is a sealed complaint?
How is the defense supposed to work with that?
I do nit understand how secret charges and secret prosecutions go… in the real world.

Perhaps Snowden should next leak the indictment against him.

How about a criminal complaint against Obama? Kenyan-born impersonator in the White House. Too much to ask for?

[…] was formally charged by the US on Friday with espionage, theft and conversion of government property.  While Hong Kong […]