U.S. intelligence officials on the trail of rogue contractor Edward Snowden are now treating the National Security Agency leak case as a possible foreign espionage matter, raising fears that the 29-year-old computer whiz may be attempting to defect to China with a trove of America’s most sensitive secrets, according to three U.S. officials.
“I think there is a real concern about that,” a senior official familiar with the case told ABC News on Thursday. Another law enforcement official said it was a “very legitimate” worry.
In an interview Wednesday with Hong Kong’s South China Morning Post, Snowden said his country “had been hacking into computers in Hong Kong and [in China] for years.”
Those remarks alarmed intelligence officials, who considered those statements as much of a betrayal as his alleged leaking of highly classified files on the NSA’s vast surveillance program to two newspapers last week, the senior official said.
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