Not too long ago Edward Snowden had a good life in Hawaii with a comfortable job and a beautiful girlfriend. Those days are over now. On Saturday the United States government has charged the NSA whistle blower with espionage, theft, and conversion of government property after leaking top secret surveillance documents to the Guardian.
The complaints against Snowden were filed in the Eastern District of Virginia -the headquarters of his former employee, Booz Edward Hamilton. This particular district is known for prosecuting cases that have to do with national security implications.
Snowden escaped to Hong Kong after leaking the surveillance documents. Now the United States is asking Hong Kong officials to detain Snowden on a provisional arrest warrant. American prosecutors have 60 days to file an indictment against Snowden, and then have him extradited so he can be put on trial.
Snowden can fight the extradition efforts of the United States. The U.S. and China have an extradition treaty and his defence team can invoke the part of the treaty which states that suspects cannot be turned over for trial because of "political character." Hong Kong's chief executive has the final say on issuing a warrant on Snowden.
Snowden has two choices at the moment. He could stay in Hong Kong and hope the Chinese government decides it's not in the interest of their foreign policy to have him sent back to the United States for trial. Snowden also has the option of applying for asylum with the United Nations High Commission for Refugees before the authorities in Hong Kong can move in on him. This process can take months though as the UNHCR is backlogged. Hong Kong's government can't surrender anyone in to the asylum unless their application has been processed.
[Source: New York Times]