The Obama administration is weighing whether to prosecute the former NSA contractor for leaking classified intelligence documents and other information to journalists, officials say.
The move could prompt a backlash from intelligence agencies, whose leaders have long criticized Snowden’s actions and say he is a traitor.
The decision could come as early as Friday and could be made public as early Sunday, according to a senior U.S. official familiar with the matter.
The White House was not immediately available for comment.
A number of intelligence agencies have already said they would prosecute Snowden, including the CIA, the FBI and the NSA, but officials said that they are waiting for the Department of Justice and the Justice Department’s Office of the Inspector General to weigh in.
The former NSA employee has faced criminal charges in the U.K. and in the United States, and he has been in hiding in Russia for more than a year.
The Justice Department is also considering whether to indict Snowden, who was granted asylum in Russia after fleeing the United Kingdom in 2014.
The intelligence community is also weighing whether it should investigate Snowden, according for example, to determine whether he breached the Espionage Act, a law that prohibits unauthorized disclosures of classified information.
A federal law enforcement official said the department’s counterintelligence and cyber-security unit has been investigating Snowden since the start of the year.
Snowden’s leaks have drawn a wave of international criticism.
The Obama White House has said Snowden’s disclosures did not breach the law.
Last month, President Barack Obama defended Snowden’s leaks as legitimate and a major national security accomplishment.
He told reporters in Hawaii on March 8 that Snowden had done nothing wrong.
Obama’s comments were the latest in a series of public comments that have come from administration officials, who have been critical of Snowden’s behavior.
The president, in a March 8 press conference, said Snowden “should not be prosecuted for what he did.”
“I think he has done a lot of good things and I think that we should be proud of what he’s done,” he said.
“But it’s not something that we’re going to take lightly, especially when we have so many people who are doing these kinds of things.”
The White Street Journal reported Friday that the intelligence community and intelligence-community agencies have been consulting on possible charges, citing a source familiar with their thinking.
The Journal reported that the FBI was exploring possible charges of aiding and abetting the unauthorized disclosure of classified intelligence, according with the source.