John Miller: Edward Snowden extradition could take months, years


(CBS News) American officials are working to bring Edward Snowden, the man responsible for leaking information on U.S. government surveillance programs, to the United States to face charges.

The British government has warned airlines not to allow Snowden to fly to the United Kingdom, because he will not be permitted into the country.

CBS News senior correspondent John Miller, a former deputy director at the FBI, says getting Snowden back to the U.S. and issuing charges against him is "complicated on a number of levels."

In order to extradite Snowden from Hong Kong, where he is believed to be, the charge against him for leaking National Security Agency (NSA) documents to the press has to "fit with U.S. law but also with statutes in Hong Kong," Miller explained Friday on "CBS This Morning."

"The heavyweight charges -- espionage, treason, things that would come with life or even a death penalty -- are probably going to be too much for the authorities in Hong Kong to say, 'We'll turn him over.'"

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U.S. officials have therefore been considering lighter charges, including theft of government property and misuse of a government computer. "The counts there are two years, five years," Miller said, adding that the problem is "that's too little for the U.S."

"They've been trying to find a set of charges that might come with a 10- or 20-year term that will be acceptable to both governments and that will be consistent with the extradition treaty [between the U.S. and China]."

When the U.S. has settled on charges, authorities will likely travel to Hong Kong to make their case as to why Snowden should be extradited, a process that Miller says could take months or even years.

"If Snowden fights it -- and he says he will -- months could turn into many months or years," Miller said.