A sealed criminal complaint has been filed against Edward Snowden in the National Security Agency surveillance case, a Justice Department official said Friday.
The official declined to specify the criminal charges against the former NSA contractor who has admitted providing information to the news media about two highly classified NSA surveillance programs.
The official, who spoke anonymously, was not authorized to discuss the ongoing investigation by name.
The Washington Post quoted unnamed officials as saying that Snowden was charged with espionage, theft and conversion of government property. The newspaper said that the complaint was filed in the Eastern District of Virginia, a jurisdiction where Snowden's former employer, Booz Allen Hamilton, is headquartered.
The Espionage Act carries a maximum 10-year prison sentence.
Disclosure of the criminal complaint came as President Barack Obama held his first meeting with a privacy and civil liberties board as his intelligence chief sought ways to help Americans understand more about sweeping government surveillance efforts exposed by Snowden.
The five members of the obscure Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board huddled with Obama for an hour in the White House Situation Room, questioning the president on two NSA programs that have stoked controversy.