Meet the NSA leaker
04:21 - Source: CNN

Story highlights

NEW: Forget Hong Kong, go to Latin America, Assange advises

NEW: Computer forensics will be a big part of any case, ex-FBI official says

Obama open to changes if debate leads to consensus, spokesman says

One senator calls it 'treason,' another questions Snowden's access

CNN  — 

The White House said Monday it welcomes a debate over the electronic surveillance programs exposed by a National Security Agency contractor, even as federal agents began building a case against the self-proclaimed leaker.

Edward Snowden told the British newspaper the Guardian that he left behind his family and a six-figure job in Hawaii to reveal the extent of the NSA’s collection of telephone and Internet data, which he called “an existential threat to democracy.” The 29-year-old worked for computer consultant Booz Allen Hamilton, a contractor for the U.S. electronic intelligence agency.

Snowden said he expects to be prosecuted for the leak, and a federal law enforcement official said Monday that FBI agents have begun an investigation by searching the 29-year-old’s home and computers and seeking interviews with his girlfriend, relatives, friends and co-workers.

Snowden outed himself Sunday in the Guardian, which began publishing details of his revelations last week. He said he expects to be prosecuted but acted in hopes of ending what he called an excessively intrusive system, the Guardian reported.