Federal prosecutors have charged former National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden with espionage in a sealed criminal complaint, according to two U.S. officials familiar with the matter.
The Justice Department notified the White House Friday about the action, according to one of the officials, both of whom asked for anonymity because the complaint was sealed.
The charges were filed in the Eastern District of Virginia. Snowden most recently worked for federal contractor Booz Allen Hamilton Holding Corp., which is based in McLean, Va.
Snowden disclosed two secret government surveillance programs that collect telephone and Internet data to the Washington Post and U.K.'s Guardian newspaper. The Guardian reported he is in hiding in Hong Kong.
The Washington Post, citing unnamed U.S. officials, reported earlier that the U.S. has asked Hong Kong to detain Snowden on a provisional arrest warrant.
The U.S. would be required to present probable cause to Hong Kong authorities. As part of a 1996 extradition treaty with Hong Kong, the State Department would then make a formal extradition request. Hong Kong officials would make the decision on whether to extradite Snowden, according to the treaty.