Snowden should be tried in US

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 11 July, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 11 July, 2013, 3:01am

I agree with Beatriz Taylor's letter ("Surveillance that is all for a good cause", July 8) and disagree with Mike Rowse's article ("Three reasons why Snowden would be better off back here", July 8).

Ms Taylor is correct in suggesting that many countries around the world conduct surveillance.

Of course they do, particularly if they themselves are likely to be under surveillance.

In an ideal world, there would be no surveillance, but we do not live in an ideal world, with some people carrying out acts of terrorism, some committing other serious crimes (for example, kidnapping, drug trafficking) and others, for example, carrying out espionage and unlawfully disclosing information relating to security or intelligence. So surveillance is directed against such people, and also as a means of monitoring threats from and countering surveillance by other countries. But to try to prevent serious crimes, and to try to counter threats and surveillance from other countries, it may be necessary to go beyond specific targeting, and to take a broader approach.

Some countries carry out massive surveillance, others only a little; it depends partly on the resources which can be made available. But there need to be adequate checks and balances to prevent abuse by governments.

I agree with Ms Taylor when she says that people should stop being paranoid about surveillance and that they should grow up.

Mr Rowse wonders if he is the only person in Hong Kong who would like to see Edward Snowden back in Hong Kong. No, I too, would like to see him returned to Hong Kong, but then arrested and immediately handed over to the US authorities, charged with offences relating to US national security and tried in a US court.

The reason that Mr Snowden fled from the US and does not wish to return there is because he does not wish to face the consequences of his actions.

Although I am not an American citizen, I am quite confident that Mr Snowden would get a fair trial, as I believe that the American judiciary is independent of the executive. And as regards "public interest", this, I imagine, could be argued either way, with "national interest" also being factored into the argument.

Both US public relations approaches quoted by Mr Rowse are valid: yes, every country carries out surveillance, so no one should be surprised; and yes, the Snowden case is an extremely serious matter.

John Shannon, Mid-Levels