Hong Kong Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying has broken his silence on the controversy surrounding US whistle-blower Edward Snowden, who is hiding out in the city. Meanwhile, sources close to the government denied previous reports that lawyers from the Hong Kong and US governments have been working together on the Snowden case.
Three days after former CIA analyst Snowden, 29, dropped the bombshell that Hong Kong and the mainland had been targets of Washington’s top secret global cyber-spying programme in an exclusive interview with the South China Morning Post, Leung pledged the government would “follow up on any incidents related to the privacy or other rights of the institutions or people in Hong Kong being violated”.
The statement comes after days of silence on the matter amid mounting public and political pressure for the city’s leaders to take some sort of position after one of the biggest whistle-blowers in US history chose Hong Kong as a refuge from a criminal case the US authorities are building against him.
The statement said: “When the relevant mechanism is activated, the Hong Kong Sar government will handle the case of Mr Snowden in accordance with the laws and established procedures of Hong Kong.
“Meanwhile, the government will follow up on any incidents related to the privacy or other rights of the institutions or people in Hong Kong being violated.”
When asked to elaborate on what specific “follow-up” actions the government would take, a spokesman for the Chief Executive’s Office said they had nothing to add.
One government source told the Post, "there is no such thing that the US can bully Hong Kong in any way." The comment appears to be a response to claims that Edward Snowden made in an exclusive interview with the Post on Wednesday that the US government was trying to bully Hong Kong into surrendering the whistleblower.
Another source said, "there were earlier reports saying that Hong Kong and US government lawyers are working together [on the Snowden case]. That is total nonsense."
These sources told the Post that the US government had not raised any official requests with Hong Kong regarding the Snowden case.