Former CIA employee Edward Snowden, who leaked details of secret US internet and phone surveillance, has gone missing from his hotel in Hong Kong.
The 29-year-old checked out but is said to have remained in Hong Kong.
It comes after a spokesperson for the US Office of the Director of National Intelligence announced that the case had been referred to the Department of Justice as a criminal matter.
A petition on the official website of the White House garnered more than 30,000 signatures urging Mr Snowden's immediate pardon.
But elsewhere, a Washington Post opinion poll suggested most Americans believe the monitoring of phone records is acceptable if it is geared towards the fight against terrorism.
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