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  • Dec 23, 2014
  • Updated: 12:47pm
Edward Snowden
NewsHong Kong

Whistle-blower Edward Snowden tells SCMP: 'Let Hong Kong people decide my fate'

Ex-CIA operative wants to remain in Hong Kong

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 12 June, 2013, 10:31pm
UPDATED : Saturday, 15 June, 2013, 8:24pm


  • Yes: 15%
  • No: 85%
13 Jun 2013
  • Yes
  • No
Total number of votes recorded: 293

Edward Snowden says he wants to ask the people of Hong Kong to decide his fate after choosing the city because of his faith in its rule of law.

The 29-year-old former CIA employee behind what might be the biggest intelligence leak in US history revealed his identity to the world in Hong Kong on Sunday. His decision to use a city under Chinese sovereignty as his haven has been widely questioned – including by some rights activists in Hong Kong.

Snowden said last night that he had no doubts about his choice of Hong Kong.

“People who think I made a mistake in picking Hong Kong as a location misunderstand my intentions. I am not here to hide from justice; I am here to reveal criminality,” Snowden said in an exclusive interview with the South China Morning Post.

“I have had many opportunities to flee HK, but I would rather stay and fight the United States government in the courts, because I have faith in Hong Kong’s rule of law,” he added.

Snowden says he has committed no crimes in Hong Kong and has “been given no reason to doubt [Hong Kong’s legal] system”.

“My intention is to ask the courts and people of Hong Kong to decide my fate,” he said.

I have had many opportunities to flee HK, but I would rather stay and fight the United States government in the courts, because I have faith in Hong Kong’s rule of law

Snowden, a former employee of US government contractor Booz Allen Hamilton who worked with the National Security Agency, boarded a flight to Hong Kong on May 20 and has remained in the city ever since.

His astonishing confession on Sunday sparked a media frenzy in Hong Kong, with journalists from around the world trying to track him down. It has also caused a flurry of debate in the city over whether he should stay and whether Beijing will seek to interfere in a likely extradition case.

The Hong Kong government has so far refused to comment on Snowden’s case. While many Hong Kong lawmakers, legal experts, activists and members of the public have called on the city’s courts to protect Snowden’s rights, others such as Beijing loyalist lawmaker and former security chief Regina Ip Lau Suk-yee said he should leave.

Hong Kong Human Rights Monitor director Law Yuk-kai said he was surprised by Snowden’s choice, adding: “Snowden’s positive view of Hong Kong no longer matches the reality.”

Law said a possible reason for his choice could be Hong Kong’s role as the region’s news hub.

“Hong Kong remains a hub of the global media, not least because of its proximity to the economic boom in southern China and the ease of access to many other Asian cities. The publicity could complicate efforts by the United States to charge Snowden and have him deported,” he said.

Snowden said yesterday that he felt safe in the city.

“As long as I am assured a free and fair trial, and asked to appear, that seems reasonable,” he said.

He says he plans to stay in Hong Kong until he is “asked to leave”.

The United States has not yet filed an application for extradition.

Snowden could choose to fight any extradition attempt in court. Another option open to him is to seek refugee status from the office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees in Hong Kong.

The UNHCR would not confirm whether it had received an application for refugee status from Snowden.

Earlier, in the interview in which he revealed his identity to the world, Snowden explained that he had sought refuge in Hong Kong because it “has a strong tradition of free speech” and “a long tradition of protesting in the streets”.

Local activists plan to take to the streets on Saturday in support of Snowden. Groups including the Civil Human Rights Front and international human rights groups will march from Chater Gardens in Central to the US consulate on Garden Road, starting at 3pm.

The march is being organised by In-media, a website supporting freelance journalists.

“We call on Hong Kong to respect international legal standards and procedures relating to the protection of Snowden; we condemn the US government for violating our rights and privacy; and we call on the US not to prosecute Snowden,” the group said in a statement.

Additional reporting by Lai Ying-kit


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This article is now closed to comments

Mr Snowdem has made the right decision ! As a Hong Kong Citizen, I welcome him to stay here and to speak up freely.
Support Edward Snowden
Local activists plan to take to the streets on Saturday in support of Snowden. Groups including the Civil Human Rights Front and international human rights groups will march from Chater Gardens in Central to the US consulate on Garden Road, starting at 3pm.
hard times !
Maybe this Snowden's fate will not be decided by Hongkongers.Instead now he is being arranged to be extradicted back to America by both sides (America and Hong Kong" lawyers on charges up to several dozens including leaking national secrets which apply to both places:Hong Kong and America.Perhaps he will soon be arrested and has to ask for help from local human rights lawyers and other righteous people who will help him to stay here as long as possible to avoid being brought back to America for questionings/tortures or even jailed for a long time.Let us uphold our freedom of expression by lending him a hand and walk to the streets on coming Saturday to the U.S.Consulate and Govt.H.Q.to support his stay here in Hong Kong---a place praised by Snowden as one that is 'ruled by law' and has freedom of speech. Let us help this tragic hero---Mr.Edward Snowden in any ways we can.Cyber survellience on commoners during peace-time is illegal and violating people's privacy---only autocratic countries would keep an eye on their people's words and acts before persecuting them ! Right ? Big Brotehr is watching us !
I agree with you on the Word of God and the future of this old world, but America's private moments and lives are not the Saturday night T.v shows for all the NSA scum bags looking though woman's computers and other things.
Most Americans know when people are **** up our backs and telling us it's raining, and my friend were sick of getting **** on and lied to. We know the future of this sinful rock that we call earth but others don't, and we have a duty to stand, and demand answers as to why the I.R.S is targeting certain peoples of political and Christian faith.
We demand answers as to why the IRS has our medical records, and access to them. Why are there drones in American skies? Why is the DHHS buying armor piercing rounds, military vehicles and weapons and refuses to answer to our Congress and the American people for it.
The seeds that this administration and administrations past are coming to harvest, but not by the American peoples doing...no that honor goes to it's politicians and the liberal media that went along with it.
No wonder why nobody stands up for what is right any more the NSA has so much dirt on the people that could say something, but because of career ending behavior they do not.
This ball has begun to roll and no one really knows where it will stop, but nonetheless Edward was sick of watching people get violated and lied to.
Having morals in a world like today is quite rare amongst then human population.
hard times !
Maybe this mr.Snowden has misinterpreted the 'rule of law' and freedoms enjoyed by Hong Kong people here.Our 'rule of law' is inherited from the British colonial government and our freedoms of expression and press are both guaranteed by the Basic Law and 'one country,two systems'.Hong Kong people don't have the right to elect their leader who is now in New York and is coming home to deal with this thorny issue---a former CIA (now hiding here )who is accused of treason or even a traitor.Though in the eyes of many people all over the world and in Hong Kong,he is a hero who dares to disclose the top secret of internet monitoring by the CIA and NSA.Our government is not yet elected by us and how can we decide mr.Snowden's fate---maybe the best way Hong Kong can help him is to look for a country to accept him and prompty send him there for his safety. That is what we can do ! His identity is a visiting American and not a Hong Kong permanent resident.Right ?
Hong Kong people can't even decide their fate. How could they decide your fate, Mr. Snowden ?
hard times !
This Old Hong Kong thinks that most Hongkongers with sense and conscience should welcome this leaker of the cyber-spying on us since 2009 by the National Security Bureau of Ameica on the excuse of anti-terrorism.Actually,the 4 million netizens' personal secrets on mobile phone calls plus their messages or info. on the internet communications may have been monitored or stolen through the invasion of the Hong Kong Internet Exchange located at Chinese Univ. by the hackers of NSA in the past four years ! We are victims of such hackings--a violation of our privacy.As Hongkong is not known for any terrorists but value freedom of expression.the invasion of our internet activities can not be excused at all.It is known that even our students' websites/e-mail accounts were monitored/invaded by the NSA ! Is it a violation of human rights which America used to promote ? I wonder.So,the safety of Mr.Snowden should be guaranteed and his whereabouts should be kept as a top secret ! We all have to be more cautious and careful about the security of our e-communications on computer or mobile phones from now on ! Cyber-spying is a soft tyranny used by modern government to control their people's acts and thoughts as well ! Beware of it !
Don't let others decide your fate, if you have to choose someone to rely on, trust your homeland! People over there do care your fate, and admire what you've done.
Edward Snowden!
One man has struggled against the United States government, just like Valerie Plame!
"Fair Game" a great film, and Edward Snowden should also won the "Freedom of Expression Award" too!
If I can decide his fate, I would say: free him! free him! free him!
Centra Spike
the US government has thrown the 4th Amendment to the wind. If you want these powers then declare war next time. This is not a "peacetime" program and the Presidents both Bush and Obama want to have it both ways. No. The 4th is absolute.
Be careful Ed, keep doing what your doing but be very, very smart about what you release. You have forfeited your freedom for principal....maintain those principals.
Edward...whatever info u have on hand, I would strongly advise you not to disclose any further. If it is damaging to your country , u r officially toasted. Your intention is to let the people know the truth about NSA. Let your fellow countrymen decide what is right or wrong. You have accomplished your task and your strong convictions. For dat I respect. As far as what NSA is doing especially with spying on foreign countries, I am against dat. They have no business and should mind their own business. Lame excuse if I may add.
You have made the right choice coming to HK although many disagree. Whatever the verdict is..I can only wish you all the best.
Mr. Snowden, you may mean well but be careful with what you reveal. If you cause harm to others or they are killed because of your statements, you are no better than the bureau you are taking this information from. If you think other countries will treat your fairly, think again - they will bleed all the information from you and then cast you aside. I'm speaking truth and I know - so my advice would be to stop. All governments have their problems - there probably isn't one that is totally clean. I would also do a lot of praying - read the Gideon Bible in your hotel room, you might find it interesting as to the future of this old world.
PCC its just so predictable, cliched and silly - what other words are there? Because we don't support constant disruptive marching does not mean we do not support democracy. This is the problem with your movement in Hong Kong. You are not in touch with the majority. You do not understand ordinary people's needs. What you are actually supporting is Anarchy, not democracy.
The police are too loose but that is because they are frightened, as is the Government, that any suggestion that marches need to be curtailed will be seen as some type of infringement on the freedoms of Hong Kong people. Reality is that this constant marching is turning many of us off the democracy movement in Hong Kong. Every single issue does not need a march. Snowden is one individual - we don't need a march. People can express their concerns, beliefs, through other means.
So PCC we should be able to make simple comments without risking falling victims to the Democratic facists. And if you gain power that is what you will be. No understanding of ordinary people and no care for ordinary people. Every aspect of life politicized and highlighted for your own egotistical benefit. Are you sure your name isn't Snowden?
So, another march this weekend. It's like a hobby for HK's protestors. Urban hiking. Do we really need to have protest marches to prove our freedom? Other countries that have more than one city have laws on their books restricting such activity for the simple reason that it disrupts the enjoyment and creates disruption for the majority of residents. In Hong Kong, that's it. Only one city. Only one centre. We really should restrict protests to maybe just once a month. Alternatively legalize the use of paintball guns by members of the general public on Serial Protestors.
Our society opted to give safe haven to the Chinese students and "democrats" who fled Beijing after the 1989 Tiananmen incident, and has supported such actions all along.....these people are viewed as traitors by their government.
Why would we apply a double standard when an American youth fleeing his country for being viewed by his government as a traitor comes to HK?
Welcome him, protect him. and tell our Government that we want to offer him shelter until he gets a fair hearing!
You have to look at each case based on what type of perceived treachery. To compare the student leaders of 1989 with an unhappy US Gov't. employee is to do the student protesters a disservice. They made an ideological stand. Snowden is simply complaining about a certain practice of his Government. He agreed to abide by a certain law regarding secrecy when he signed on and took the pay cheque. It wouldn't be a case of not applying double standards if we simply allow him to stay because he opposes his government/employer, it would be a dangerous precedent. Let's really not apply double standards - one for wealthy Westerners with contractual disputes and one for impoverished Asian or African dissidents.
Traitor, you could choose to stay in Hong Kong, but then your fate would be decided by a little drone.
Are you kidding me?!?! Hong Kong people cannot even have a direct hand on deciding on who their Chief Executive should be and now you want HK people to decide your fate?!?!?! You are just trying to play this card for sympathy!
Snowden, who do you think you are?!?!
You are an American, an American idiot!!!
Leave Hong Kong now and face the consequences of your actions. If you are lucky, you might get your high school diploma while in prison!
No matter what happens, just don't be afraid. To live fairly is to trust and cherish the place one lives in. To "live" as one's will is to seek for a place where the old things never reach, even in the after life. If you care about now, don't be bothered by the future or the after future. If you care about the truth and justice, they are not to be realized by time, but by every single livings with time.
He Shoud not be handed over to USA.
He have given freedom to all humanity.
Hong Kong is free country and all Hong Kong people should speak out for him.
I applaud his actions - I think - but I wish someone much smarter than this guy had done it. He seems like kind of an idiot.
who are you? president of mensa
another keyboard buffoon
Hm... wonder what else he has in mind, lets hope he manages to express himself before someone takes him out.
Fascinating---its is a hub of media and the UN prescence in Hong Kong is very interesting. I, for one, am an American that doubts I fully understand the impact of the jurisdiction he has chosen. There has been some thought here, clearly.
Lagrange Maine, United States of America,
Mr. Snowden....thank you! The DHHS has been targeting my country men based off of our Constitutional beliefs, and our personal faith in Jesus for some time. Violating our right to privacy, and free speech and much more, under the cloak of national security and personal interest.
I don't know the details, though I am sure they will come out, but just know that if you hadn't done that our country and innocent American people would have suffered greatly as time went on.
But now you exposed the real face of these lying, manipulating politicians who only care about their pockets and fulfilling their lusts. Not all American Senators or Congressmen are against you friend, and neither is all of America. Only the liberal sissy's think your a traitor, while the rest of us thank you for your sacrifice.
All good and heroic deeds come with consequences my fellow American citizen, but I will be praying for your and your family, and if you are watching these posts please be encouraged today. I pray for your salvation and safety.
Adam Jewell
A Christian, Constitutional Believing, American Patriot who loves his country and whom is prepared to protect the values that has made our land so beautiful, so that all the world can come and be free.
I agree with you - my concern is more about the IRS - that is just plain scary. I just hesitate to have Mr. Snowden reveal things that might be misunderstood. For example, if he thinks other countries don't do the same type of intelligence operations as the US he is really naive. I also have your Christian values but have traveled extensively in different parts of the world - other nations do not think like we do on many levels. Many also do not have access to all the information we do - they are fed propaganda and believe it..... I just feel badly for Mr. Snowden as I know he means well, but I'm not sure this will end well or like he wants it to end.
Local activists plan to take to the streets on Saturday in support of Snowden. Groups including the Civil Human Rights Front and international human rights groups will march from Chater Gardens in Central to the US consulate on Garden Road, starting at 3pm.
about time......
This could be a well-designed plan for Snowden. Let's think about it in this way: he must bring a lot of money to sustain his stay in Hong Kong, given the high living cost. Additionally, he is still staying in so called "luxury" hotel. Who supports him and gives him this huge amount of money?
Hope he will be able to find a prominent lawyer of this area to protect him. And hope he can sustain his life there in HK, as either hotel fee or renting expense must cost him much, not mentioning the air quality.
Haha, the Hong Kong lawyer will charge him PER HOUR more than he paid PER DAY in his fancy hotel!


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