U.S. officials say federal prosecutors have filed charges of espionage against Edward Snowden, who leaked documents on top-secret U.S. surveillance programs.
Officials say the United States has also asked Hong Kong to detain Snowden on a provisional arrest warrant. Snowden flew to Hong Kong recently after leaving his job as a contractor for the U.S. National Security Agency, taking with him a collection of classified documents.
U.S. officials told media outlets that prosecutors have filed a sealed criminal complaint against Snowden in the state of Virginia. Speaking on condition of anonymity, they say it includes charges of espionage, theft, and conversion of government property.
The documents that Snowden leaked to media outlets reveal that U.S. intelligence agencies gather large amounts of telephone and Internet data from users around the world.
Snowden said it is important to reveal what he says is the government's massive surveillance of private citizens.
The U.S. government says information gathered by the NSA has foiled terrorist plots.
Hong Kong has an extradition treaty with the United States and has turned over some fugitives to the American government in recent years. But China retains the authority to block extradition from the territory if it considers the allegations against suspects to be political.
Referring to Hong Kong, Snowden told the South China Morning Post, "I am not here to hide from justice. I am here to reveal criminality."
Snowden has said he wants to seek asylum in Iceland. However, Iceland Interior Ministry spokesman Johannes Tomasson told VOA Friday that Snowden has not made a formal appeal for asylum in Iceland, and that Snowden would have to be in the country to make such a request.