US lawmakers have begun to speculate whether former CIA employee Edward Snowden had underlying motives when he fled to Hong Kong after leaking NSA surveillance programs.

Lawmakers suggested Snowden may have chosen the semi-autonomous Chinese territory where he has an assurance of protection under Beijing’s wing, although there was no concrete evidence yet, reports Wall Street Journal.

“Clearly, we’re going to make sure that there’s a thorough scrub of what his China connections are,” said House Intelligence Committee Chairman Mike Rogers, who described Snowden a “traitor”.

“We need to ask a lot more questions about his motives, his connections; where he ended up; why he is there; how is he sustaining himself while he is there; and is the Chinese government fully cooperating?”

The remarks came a day after Snowden spoke out for the first time in a published interview with Hong Kong’s leading English-language newspaper, saying he has faith in the city’s rule of law and will fight extradition.

Washington has long accused China of sponsoring cyber espionage on US corporations. The leaks also follows a summit between President Barack Obama and his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping where both sides agreed on cooperation against the growing threat of cyber attacks.