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Edward Snowden

30-year-old American Edward Snowden, a contract employee at the National Security Agency, is the whistleblower behind significant revelations that surfaced in June 2013 about the US government's top secret, extensive domestic surveillance programmes. Snowden flew to Hong Kong from Hawaii in May 2013, and supplied confidential US government documents to media outlets including the Guardian

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Editorial: Snowden made the right move

PUBLISHED : Monday, 24 June, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 24 June, 2013, 7:22am

Edward Snowden, the world's best-known whistle-blower and fugitive, is out of our hands and far away. He left his hiding-place in Hong Kong yesterday morning and flew out after the US filed espionage charges and asked our government to send him back. Washington's legal documents have been found wanting and a request for further information has been sought; the clarification, if forwarded, will obviously come too late. There could be no better outcome for our city and China.

Snowden's choice of Hong Kong to hole up in while he revealed who America was spying on and how its surveillance operations were conducted was genius. He broke cover just days after presidents Xi Jinping and Barack Obama had agreed at their maiden summit to cultivate stronger ties based on mutual trust. Hong Kong, the former intelligence agency contractor explained, had a sturdy rule of law, free media and proud tradition of protest - attributes he considered were in his favour for a fair hearing. Being in China at a sensitive time for relations with the US, but in a place where the "one country, two systems" model gave him a global voice and the possibility of protection was a clever strategy.

Hong Kong and Beijing were put in a bind. A Sunday Morning Post survey found that 49.9 per cent of Hongkongers were against Snowden being returned to face charges. Should he not be handed over under the terms of a treaty and the case go through the courts - a process that could last up to five years - relations with the US would likely sour. Similarly, while Chinese authorities were secretly pleased that the hypocrisy of US claims of Beijing's cyberspying had come home to roost, to intervene would jeopardise diplomatic gains.

That officials here and in Beijing kept their cool is admirable. Documents released by Snowden show that the US' National Security Agency not only intercepted the phone and internet records of Americans, but also spied on Hong Kong-based telecommunications firms and Chinese institutions, companies and citizens. Anger at such uninvited intrusions should be expected; instead, there was calm and silence.

Whatever we think of Snowden or his tactics, he has served us well by sparking the much-needed debate on government access to personal data. His departure from our city closes the Hong Kong chapter of his story; our government did as it should and Beijing was wise to keep a distance. The best interests of the nation and Hong Kong have been served.

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SanFranciscan

Ever heard of the notorious Big Brothers? The Big Five of CIA,NSA,DIA,NGA,NRO in coordination with satellite stations throughout the territories of five Anglo nations, known as Five Eyes, and their worldwide hacking has been a constant warning since last year in China Daily. (Google 'Sicko Uncle Sam' at the CD Forum for more)
impala
I thought there was only One Eye, and it was destroyed when they threw in the ring in that mountain near the end of the third movie. I am gonna have to rewatch this.
chanyellowgreen
The point is, if national interests are above all ethical standards, then it will not be difficult to understand why the history of mankind has been perpetually filled with wars, fights and invasions. Do we call oursleves civilized? Sadly we have never changed.
the sun also rises
Yeah,the departure of this hero has closed a chapter of his story.But the incident has sparked a heated issue--------the importance of privacy against so-called national interests. Besides,we Hong Kong people, and netizens elsewhere in the world would be more cautious while sending their e-mails or making phone calls on the internet or using cell phones.No important messages should be sent through these electronic tools for safety and security reasons.Right ?
impala
After two weeks of an overdose of Snowden news on these pages, any move outward from Chep Lap Kok was the right move.
johnyuan
So you seem not only have once read a book too but have an overdose in reading SCMP’s news -- it is your choice really. Chill out and take a flight if that really would help you (suffering perhaps from short attention span) in our information age. Read also my response to your earlier comment. Allow me to share your burden.
the sun also rises
there has never been so-called overdose of the news of Snowden,the leaker-hero---the symbol of justice in this cyber era.As he was in Hong Kong while his revelations concerning our beloved Hong Kong and Mainland China uncovered , most Hong Kong people naturally were eager to know more about him and his intentions,not to say the top-secret cyberspying info.he disclosed.We Hongkongers owe him much.What we could do was only a hiding-place for him for just ove a month and let him leave the territory safely---ignoring the demands of the Obama administration for his extradition and so-called provisional detention. Maybe our upcoming visa-free to America will be postponed,but who cares ? if you have to go there,you still have to.If not,like this Old Hong Kong (in my whole life),it just doesn't matter at all !
johnyuan
I once read a book written by a Swiss child psychologist which was translated in many different languages about how secret works in human relationship. He observed that a child tells everything and holds no secret from mother. As a child grows older, the child tells everything including secrets to mother. Once becomes a grownup the child reveals secrets selectively to mother or other love one so bonding still and will be established respectively. If secret can be seen as simple as a reflection on the need for human bonding, we may justify whistleblowing on national secrets is conditionally acceptable -- or unconditionally acceptable escalating to the next higher step in human evolution. But the psychologist only pointed for eventual unconditional honesty between human and God. The evolution of human still waits for the day that fellow human survival doesn’t depend on keeping secret from each other. The prospect is very unpromising – the child in us has long grown out of us.
stoatmonster
Yes, thank you very much for making such a relevant, intelligent and meaningful contribution to the Snowden debate.
johnyuan
Thank you. But don’t you think your appreciation could be a bit even more fundamental than mine? I am absolutely perplexed by a very vexing issue – information and the right to use it in our information age. Going back to the basic?

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