Interesting points, in addition to the “why charge espionage so early”? Politically, it would have made it harder to seek extradition from Hong Kong. Nothing would have inhibited U.S. from charging it at a later date, if they chose to do so.

Via NY Times:

David H. Laufman, a former federal prosecutor in the United States, said it appeared that the Obama administration had flubbed Mr. Snowden’s case in at least two ways.

“What mystifies me is that the State Department didn’t revoke his passport after the charges were filed” on June 14, Mr. Laufman said. “They missed an opportunity to freeze him in place.”

He also expressed puzzlement at the decision to unseal the criminal charges on Friday, possibly prompting Mr. Snowden to flee. The standard practice in such cases is to unseal the charges only after the defendant is in custody, he said.