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NSA Whistleblower Could Soon Face Criminal Charges

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WASHINGTON (WJZ) — The Justice Department is now preparing criminal charges against the CIA employee who has admitted to leaking secret document, revealing government surveillance of phone records from millions of Americans.

Jessica Kartalija spoke with lawmakers about leaker Edward Snowden.

Former NSA contractor, Edward Snowden, a former Maryland resident, is being called America’s most wanted man, after exposing two U.S. secret surveillance programs.

“I think that the public is owed an explanation,” Snowden said.

Snowden told The Guardian newspaper that programs monitoring millions of phone records and Internet activity are open to abuse.

“When you’re dealing with technology, it’s hard to stop leaks,” said Congressman Dutch Ruppersberger, who’s part of the House Intelligence Committee. “I think we have to get the facts. A lot of false information has been out there. We’re at war with al-Qaeda; we have China, Russia, we have cyber threats so we have to make sure that we protect our country from a national security perspective.”

Snowden worked as a contractor for the CIA and, most recently, the National Security Agency. He left his job in Hawaii last month and gave classified information to reporters. The Justice Department has launched a criminal investigation into the 29-year-old, whose family moved from North Carolina to Ellicott City.

“He knew what he was doing was illegal. He’s worked in the intelligence community,” Ruppersberger said. “In my opinion, when you break the law, you have to be held accountable.”

Snowden briefly attended Anne Arundel County Community College, taking computer classes. He also worked as a security guard for a secret NSA facility at the University of Maryland.

Congress is now debating whether Snowden’s disclosures will create momentum here in Capitol Hill to review the use of contractors and national security policies.

“We have to make sure we do the best we can for the checks and balances. We need more accountability. That’s something we’re going to have to continue to look at when we go into the cyber field, the cyber world,” Ruppersberger said.

Snowden told The Guardian that he expects the U.S. government to come after him, but fled to Hong Kong fearing he wouldn’t get a fair trial. As of now, he has not been charged with any crime.

The Obama administration has launched an internal review to assess damage to national security following Snowden’s public release of NSA eavesdropping programs.

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