The U.S. government has quietly charged ex-NSA systems analyst Edward Snowden with espionage, theft, and conversion of government property, The Washington Post reported on Friday.
Snowden, a former NSA contractorthat collect certain user information from Internet companies and phone service providers in an effort to track down terrorists.
In addition to filing a sealed criminal complaint, the U.S. has asked Hong Kong to detain Snowden, unnamed U.S. officials told the Post. U.S. prosecutors have 60 days to file an indictment and have Snowden sent back to the U.S.
Hong Kong has an extradition agreement with the U.S. While a few things could stand in the way of the extradition -- Snowden could embark on a lengthy legal battle with the U.S. government, or apply for asylum in Hong Kong -- the U.S. officials said Hong Kong has been cooperative in the past. But, the agreement does allow exceptions for political offenses, and espionage -- which includes stealing or exposing confidential information -- usually falls into that category.