The employer of Edward Snowden, who claimed responsibility for leaking U.S.
intelligence surveillance operations, said Tuesday it fired him the day before.
Meanwhile, Russian officials said they would weigh whether to grant asylum to Snowden, who holed up in a Hong Kong hotel until Monday when he checked out. His whereabouts are unknown.
In a statement, Booz Allen confirmed that Snowden "was terminated June 10, 2013, for violations of the firm's code of ethics and firm policy."
The statement said he was employed for less than three months and assigned to a team based in Hawaii.
"News reports that this individual has claimed to have leaked classified information are shocking, and if accurate, this action represents a grave violation of the code of conduct and core values of our firm," the statement said. "We will work closely with our clients and authorities in their investigation of this matter."
Russian presidential spokesman Dmitry Peskov said Tuesday if Russian authorities receive an asylum request, "we will consider it," business daily Kommersant reported.
Snowden, 29, a former CIA computer technician who was an intelligence contractor, said Sunday he was the source of recent leaks about the National Security Administration's cellphone and Internet monitoring program known as "Prism."
Snowden is seeking asylum after he left a hotel in Hong Kong, where he leaked the top-secret NSA documents to media, the British publication The Daily Telegraph reported.
"The only thing I can do is sit here and hope the Hong Kong government does not deport me," Snowden told The Guardian, suggesting that he could seek protection in Iceland. The Guardian broke the story.
Snowden's disclosures also raised questions about outsourcing U.S. intelligence operations, the Telegraph said. More than half the 25,000 employees of Booz Allen, Snowden's employer, hold government security clearances.
"The process has just been a great wealth transfer to the private sector," former CIA case officer Bob Baer told the Telegraph. "And I hate the systems they've built because they never caught a terrorist."
Snowden's disappearance came as the Justice Department began the process of charging him with disclosing top-secret information, The New York Times reported.
U.S. Justice Department officials, along with FBI and National Security Agency officials, prepared to testify before House lawmakers behind closed doors Tuesday.
Senate Intelligence Committee Chairwoman Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., said her panel would hold a closed briefing for all senators Thursday.
Snowden said he leaked information about the program, which gathers intelligence from various Internet companies, and an order from the U.S. Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, to blow the whistle on what he said was excessive government surveillance of Americans.
He left the United States several weeks ago and was holed up in Hong Kong's Mira Hotel before checking out Monday, two U.S. officials told the Times.
Criminal charges being prepared against him are expected to strengthen the Justice Department's ability to extradite him to the United States, the Times said.
A separate investigation is being conducted by the NSA, including to the damage the revelations may have on the effectiveness of programs.
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