Nightly News   |  June 22, 2013

US seeks Snowden extradition

The United States has contacted authorities in Hong Kong to seek the extradition of alleged NSA leaker Edward Snowden in accordance with the U.S.-Hong Kong Agreement for the Surrender of Fugitive Offenders, an administration official said. NBC’s Kristen Welker reports.

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>>> good evening. the hunt for edward snowden has taken on greater urgency now hat the u.s. charged the former nas contractor with espionage. since spilling the beans about secret government surveillance programs, snowden has been in hiding. bringing him to justice not only hinges on finding him but getting whatever country he is found in to hand him over. this is still more potentially damaging likes from snowden go public. let's bring in white house correspondent kristen welker.

>> reporter: good evening. it is believed edward snowden is hiding out in hong kong . u.s. officials want him arrested and brought back to american soil. edward snowden who admitted to liking classified documents about the u.s. phone and surveillance programs is facing criminal charges .

>> a traitor --

>> reporter: the complaint accuses snowden of violating federal espionage laws. he is also charged with stealing government property. today, lawmakers in both parties backed the move to bring him to justice.

>> he is a man who betrayed his country. this will get the extradition process started. hopefully hong kong will be agreeable.

>> under the current laws again i will not be the judge in the case or the jury, under current laws it looks dismal.

>> reporter: the guardian reporter who first broke the story told us today the u.s. government has crossed the line.

>> it is extraordinary they would actually charge somebody under an espionage statute who didn't work for a foreign government didn't sell secrets didn't pass any secrets.

>> reporter: u.s. officials have contacted authorities in hong kong to seek his extradition. nbc's ian williams is in hong kong .

>> reporter: hong kong authorities were tight-lipped refusing to comment on the charges or say whether they received a request from washington. what is more certain that this is just the first stretch in what is likely to be a long and complicated process. and one that gives snowden plenty of opportunity for challenge and for delay for months if not years.

>> reporter: the guardian newspaper continues to like documents initially provided by snowden . today they reported the u.s. hacked into chinese mobile phone come pans to access millions of private text messages. friday the paper released documents that showed the outreach of britain's spy agency. greenwald hasn't spoken to snowden today but the former nsa contractor told him he is not fearf fearful.

>> he its the most wanted man in the world from most powerful government on earth where there has been a moment of regret or remorse or even fear he is completely at peace.

>> reporter: officials in the uk have not commented on the reports about their intelligence agency . one obama administration official says if hong kong doesn't act fast to extradite snowden it could harm the u.s. relationship with that region. snowden has the said he will fight extradition. lester.

>> thank you.