• Fri
  • Dec 26, 2014
  • Updated: 12:03pm
PUBLISHED : Sunday, 23 June, 2013, 8:47pm
UPDATED : Sunday, 23 June, 2013, 9:31pm

Hong Kong shocked and relieved at Snowden's departure to 'third country'

Hongkongers expressed shock, awe and even a slight twinge of disappointment as they learned US whistle-blower Edward Snowden had left the city on Sunday morning on a flight bound for Moscow.

The former National Security Agency contractor had left on his own accord for a “third country” through a “lawful and normal channel”, Hong Kong authorities said, after Snowden had been holed up in the city for more than a month.

His departure was met with mixed response on Sunday. The government appeared to have been relieved. New People’s Party lawmaker Regina Ip Lau Suk-yee told the New York Times that Hong Kong officials would finally be able to “breathe a sigh of relief” despite having obviously irked the US.

“I hope the [US government] will shrug it off, because our government acted in accordance with the law,” she said.

Meanwhile, the Twittersphere was abuzz with comments about the government’s handling of Snowden’s case since he went public on June 10 via The Guardian newspaper.

One journalist tweeted:

In an interview with the South China Morning Post earlier this month, Snowden said he had “faith in Hong Kong’s rule of law”.

“Helpless and useless HK government. As a Hongkonger, I am extremely disappointed,” one reader said in the comments section of a Snowden story on SCMP.com.

“Guess he didn’t trust Hong Kong as much as he said he did,” another reader with the name jashlhk wrote.

In a statement issued on Sunday, the government said they were not given sufficient information to process the request for Snowden’s arrest and there was no legal basis to restrict him from leaving Hong Kong.

But not all felt Hong Kong had failed Snowden. Some praised the government for “playing a good hand” and allowing Snowden to leave while turning down a US request to detain him.

"Good job by the government, screw the NSA," one person tweeted.

While Snowden’s choice to escape to Hong Kong had both baffled and flattered the city for weeks, the ex-CIA contractor received widespread support from the citizens. This was seen in a public opinion poll commissioned by the Post that showed 33 per cent considered him hero, compared with 13 per cent who considered him a traitor.

Hundreds took the streets on June 15 in support of Snowden, marching amid heavy rain from Chater Garden to government headquarters chanting slogans such as “No big brother state” and “Team Edward”.

With Hong Kong’s 15 minutes of fame now possibly over, many netizens took to social media to bid farewell to what is still the world’s most wanted ex-spy.

“Just imagine the days without our Snowden, how boring it will be! Mr Snowden we will miss and appreciate your revelations,” one reader commented on the Post’s Facebook page.

Wild theories, both serious and humourous, of why Snowden had left the city began swirling on forums and social media including the likes of: “Snowden left Hong Kong and is headed for Moscow, probably to watch the Rugby 7s World Cup this week” and “Snowden can’t stand Hong Kong’s hot and humid weather!”

As for the media, the absence of Snowden would put an obvious calm to what has been an exciting three weeks. Twitter-user and journalist @beijingscribe summed it up succinctly:


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This article is now closed to comments

It is only right that Snowden stands up against the government which committed crime against all nations.
hard times !
maybe this is the best option our Leung administration could take to solve the thorny issue:Mr.Snowden's case as the Obama administration was keen on getting this leaker-hero with every means while many Hongkongers supported his revelations of the cyber-spying acts committed by the NSA of America and won't like to see him be extradited back to the States to be tried unfairly and jailed for a lifelong time or even executed.Now the safe departure of him normally from our airport with no accident or risks is the best that we Hongkongers can do and are expected to do by our Beijing leaders---letting Hongkongese solve this issue according to the law of Hong Kong and no intervention from Central authorities which pledged to honour 'one country,two systems'.Besides,it was rumoured that Snowden had long been under the protection of our cops by living in a government 'safe flat' in western district---according to a report of the New York Times.The sudden leave of Snowden this morning might be good to him and Hong Kong as well since his time is running out as even the charge of stealing government properties can land him into the trap of extradition-------luckily our government made use of the tactic:time was needed to study the documents provided by the US side to have him extradited and the documents supplied were not enough to have him detained and be extradicted.Well done,Leung administration !
This is what HK and it's government does best............when faced with a dilemna or problem (of which most they don't know how to handle), the best thing to do is to shrug or brush it off.........this is the HK government at it's best..............Don't expect them to do anything else.
I am disappointed of your departing HK because i prefer to see HK standing up agains the US government to protect and return to you your freedom. But departing HK may be the best choice to you giving the circumstances. You earned great respect from me and lots of people in HK and the world by revealing the US government's hypocrisy and crime against mankind. My hero, all the best!
China has missed the perfect opportunity to return a favor to the US (a la Chen and NYU) by offering a visiting professorship to Snowden at TsingHua University. For a sovereign nation in ascendance, Beijing has been embarrassingly timid in its response to revelations of US spying in China. This is a squandered opportunity for China to assert itself diplomatically by reminding the Americans that Hong Kong is no longer a British colony subservient to its every whim and fancy.


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