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US files charges against PRISM leaker Edward Snowden

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The Washington Post reports that federal prosecutors have filed a criminal complaint against Edward Snowden today, the former intelligence contractor best known for leaking details of the National Security Agency's PRISM program to publications in recent weeks. Charges include theft, conversion of government property, and — the biggest — espionage, which could carry the death penalty. The complaint itself is sealed, meaning details of the charges are unavailable to the public.

Bringing Snowden to trial, though, could prove a major challenge: he is currently in Hong Kong, where he traveled prior to kicking off his whistleblowing campaign. Extraditing him from the Chinese territory could be difficult for US authorities — if not impossible — involving months or years of proceedings in Hong Kong courts. Meanwhile, he's received a privately-funded offer of a flight to Iceland, which may be amenable to a political asylum request.

Snowden has yet to comment on the charges.

Update: for what it's worth, Charlie Savage of the New York Times has posted the cover sheet for the criminal complaint, filed on June 14th, 2013. The complaint, filed in the East District of Virginia, identifies the case as "United States of America v. Edward J. Snowden."