A former US intelligence worker has apparently gone into hiding a day after revealing himself as the source of leaked details of widespread US spying on private internet and phone records.
Edward Snowden, 29, was reported to have checked out of a Hong Kong hotel on Monday following the publication by the Guardian newspaper of an interview about his motives and actions. His whereabouts are now unknown.
In the interview, Snowden stated that he might be a target for extra-judicial abduction by the CIA, or the target of violence by one of the organisation’s allies or third parties.
Snowden, who was working as a contractor for the National Security Agency (NSA) in Hawaii, travelled to Hong Kong after leaking details of the Prism spy programme, which harvests data from millions of private communications and phone calls.
The White House has said that an investigation is underway into the leak. It has, however, refused to discuss its scope.
Nevertheless, several lawmakers in Washington called for the extradition and prosecution of the ex-CIA employee behind one of the most significant security leaks in US history. Members of the US Congress said they would be briefed on the topic on Tuesday; the US Justice Department is in the initial stages of a criminal investigation.
“If anyone were to violate the law by leaking classified information outside the legal avenues, certainly that individual should be prosecuted to the full extent of the law,” Eric Cantor, the No. 2 Republican in the House of Representatives, said on CBS’s “This Morning.”