Civil Liberties

Treason an Unlikely Charge Against Snowden, Say Legal Experts

Even if politicians throw the word around a lot


Edward Snowden has been called a "traitor" and accused of "treason" for his leaks of some of the nation's top secrets.

But is there a case for the T-words?

Treason is a crime so old that it's the only one specifically defined in the U.S. Constitution, but legal experts suggest it's a charge that Snowden will most likely never face. And "traitor" seems to fit better in the world of Benedict Arnold and dueling pistols than in today's sea of electronic surveillance and top secret security clearances.

Constitutionally, treason is defined as "whoever, owing allegiance to the United States, levies war against them or adheres to their enemies, giving them aid and comfort within the United States or elsewhere."

That's a tough sell in Snowden's case, legal experts say.