Edward Snowden was fired from his job as a Booz Allen Hamilton contractor after revealing classified National Security Agency programs. (AFP / The Guardian)
The Justice Department has charged Edward Snowden with espionage for allegedly leaking details of National Security Agency surveillance operations and has asked Hong Kong to arrest him, The Washington Post reported Friday evening.
Citing unnamed U.S. officials, the Post said Snowden, who formerly worked for Virginia-based private contractor Booz Allen Hamilton, was also charged with theft and conversion of government property.
Federal prosecutors asked authorities in Hong Kong to detain Snowden on a provisional arrest warrant, the Post says. Snowden, who worked as a systems analyst in Hawaii, fled to the Chinese territory last month with top-secret documents and court orders on government surveillance of telephone and Internet communications.
The complaint was filed in the Eastern District of Virginia, which the Post says has "a long track record in prosecuting cases with national security implications."
The United States has an extradition treaty with Hong Kong, and Snowden could fight extradition if he is arrested.
A Justice Department spokeswoman declined to comment.
Michael Winter writes for USA TODAY.