Hong Kong Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying and New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg met in New York to talk about the challenges facing both their cities, but made no mention of NSA whistle-blower Edward Snowden, who has fled the US to Hong Kong.
The 40-minute appointment was hastily arranged and took place in the late afternoon on Monday in New York time. It was originally scheduled for the morning, but it was understood that Bloomberg’s office had suggested the meeting be moved because the Snowden case had attracted massive media attention.
But later that day a senior Hong Kong official said: “Bloomberg told the chief executive he decided to reschedule the meeting on Sunday night because of an urgent assignment. We respect the reason the mayor gave.”
The official said Bloomberg visited Omni Berkshire Place in Midtown Manhattan where Leung is staying.
The senior Hong Kong official said the controversy over Snowden was not mentioned during the meeting. Leung and Bloomberg exchanged views on the challenges facing New York and Hong Kong, including issues on transport, infrastructure development and environmental protection.
The meeting was held shortly after Leung presided over the bell closing ceremony at the New York Stock Exchange.
Snowden, 29, who is behind possibly the biggest intelligence leak in US history, came out of hiding in Hong Kong – a city he said he chose because of its “spirit commitment to free speech and the right of political dissent”. But the revelation could cause a diplomatic headache for the Beijing and Hong Kong governments.
On Tuesday, Glenn Greenwald, the journalist who exposed classified US surveillance programmes leaked by Snowden, said there would be more “significant revelations” to come from the documents.
Greenwald said the decision was being made on when to release the next story based on the information provided by Snowden.
“We are going to have a lot more significant revelations that have not yet been heard over the next several weeks and months,” said Greenwald of The Guardian.
“There are dozens of stories generated by the documents he provided, and we intend to pursue every last one of them,” Greenwald said.
The former CIA technical assistant and an employee of defence contractor Booz Allen Hamilton, Snowden claimed he single-handedly exposed the Prism programme, under which the US government secretly collected information online from private user accounts operated by Facebook, Google, Apple and other internet giants.
Additional reporting by Associated Press