• Sun
  • Dec 21, 2014
  • Updated: 6:18am
Edward Snowden
NewsHong Kong

'US failed to give Hong Kong crucial information' for Snowden arrest

Washington accused of failing to provide crucial information on arrest demand

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 25 June, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 25 June, 2013, 4:22pm

Hong Kong has hit back at US criticism over the way it handled whistle-blower Edward Snowden, saying Washington failed to provide crucial information it needed to legally detain or prevent the former CIA analyst from leaving the city.

Reliable sources with knowledge of the government's handling of the case have told the Post that a lack of detailed evidence to support the charges Washington outlined against Snowden and insufficient passport information - including Snowden's full name and passport number - meant they were duty-bound under Hong Kong laws to seek more details.

The White House said it did not accept Hong Kong's explanation, warning the decision to allow Snowden to leave had harmed Sino-US relations.

Responding to allegations by the US that Hong Kong had allowed Snowden to leave the city despite the revocation of his passport, the Hong Kong Immigration Department said: "So far no notification has been received from the US government of Mr Edward Snowden's passport being revoked."

WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange said Snowden had left Hong Kong with a refugee document supplied by Ecuador, which is considering Snowden's application for asylum.

The sources also told the Post the Hong Kong government had to ensure key information such as the accurate and full passport number of Snowden and his name were provided, because if the details were not all present and correct they could face a legal challenge at a later date.

"To ensure procedural fairness, the Hong Kong government needed to secure this information and also enough evidence about the charges [pressed by the US government] against Snowden. Failure to do so would give rise to the possibility of a judicial review by Snowden," the sources said.

Snowden's full name is Edward Joseph Snowden.

Hong Kong barrister Michael Blanchflower, SC, explained that the US government was required to provide specific information. This would include: the criminal charges in the US, the issuance of a warrant of arrest in the US, a description of the person, the information that the person was believed to be in Hong Kong, and also information supporting the charges to give Hong Kong an idea of the underlying conduct alleged to satisfy criminality.

Commenting on Snowden's case, Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying said Snowden had left Hong Kong through a "lawful and usual channel", though he realised "there have been expressions of displeasure on the part of ... the United States".

Leung said the Hong Kong government was still processing the request by the US government for the provisional arrest when Snowden left Hong Kong. Therefore, there was "no legal basis" to stop him from leaving. He insisted Hong Kong followed the law in handling the case.

"The people of Hong Kong and our friends in the international community expect us to follow the laws of Hong Kong itself. They expect us to uphold our rule of law and, equally importantly, they expect us to follow procedural fairness and procedural justice. We were asking the United States government for further important information on the case, and there was no legal basis to stop Mr Snowden from leaving Hong Kong," Leung said.

The US Department of Justice said senior US officials had been in touch with their Hong Kong counterparts since June 10.

Last Wednesday, US Attorney General Eric Holder spoke to Hong Kong's Secretary for Justice, Rimsky Yuen Kwok-keung, and urged Hong Kong to honour the request for Snowden's arrest, it said.

The US Department of Justice has denied there was anything missing in its request.

In unusually direct criticism of Beijing, White House spokesman Jay Carney said the US did not accept explanations the decision was simply a determination handed down by local Hong Kong authorities.

"We are just not buying that this was a technical decision by a Hong Kong immigration official," he said. "This was a deliberate choice by the government to release a fugitive ... and that decision unquestionably has a negative impact on the US-China relationship. The Chinese have emphasised the importance of building trust. They've dealt that effort a serious setback."

Video: US Secretary of State John Kerry warned of consequences to ties with Moscow and Beijing over Edward Snowden's flight from Hong Kong to Russia, saying it was "deeply troubling" if requests for his extradition had been ignored.


Related topics

For unlimited access to:

SCMP.com SCMP Tablet Edition SCMP Mobile Edition 10-year news archive



This article is now closed to comments

I cannot believe how heavy-handed the Obama regime is acting in the Snowden affair. Obama is trying to use the same bullying tactic on Hong Kong that he's used on Libya, Egypt, Iraq, and Syria. I bet it's eating Obama alive that he can't send in a drone and blow something up.
Far from being miffed at HK SAR and Beijing, I'd say a little humble pie for the US is appropriate....certainly not indignation. It's pretty clear the US flouts sovereign borders and the other laws with impunity.
The HK and China may still be smarting from this news of extensive US spying on their citizens and institutions. And, the US has the gall to demand their help? Excuse me?
Now, I hasten to say the next bit of journalism to pursue is the extent of Chinese spying on other countries. We don't need to know about its domestic practices.
It becomes more painfully apparent that the US shambles with legal procedure, shows little to no respect for foreign law and regulations and next to nil in respect for the sovereign nature of any nations borders, almost as evident they do spy on their own population.
Unfortunately the US has become a "Beacon of Failure" rather than "Beacon of Hope" for what they call dissidents elsewhere. When it hits them selves, it is spies and traitors and the "rope for a neck tie party" is hastily strung up in the nearest tree.
I wonder when the US administration and population on a whole will begin to understand they make up less than 5% of the population of the world, and if all other nations decided to say now to these fancy "international policing policy" we could walk right over them without a single shot being fired in anger just to show our support for those whom dare stand up for freedom, liberty and inalienable rights of all people on the planet.
It is as painfully apparent as someone whom posted a message in an image on facebook a few weeks back.
"-What happens when the rich understand that the poor masses have nothing left to eat, except the rich."
It is the same in this case. What happens when the control freaks in power realize that the desire for freedom far outweigh the risks and people seek to regain that essential liberty from those whom took it away?
Always fun to hear the US lecture other countries on the matter of trust
Well, thank God there are still places in the world governed by rule of law, something that is but a distant memory here in the US.
And I have no doubt that a lot of countries, including some of our allies are thoroughly enjoying watching the US government repeatedly embarrass itself in the Snowden Affair.
Snowden is a hero and a patriot in my book. We live in an age where the civil liberties our forefathers fought so hard for are being eroded by the day. Freedom of Press, Freedom of Speech and Freedom of Assembly are mere ghostly images of their original intent. We’ve woken up to an Orwellian Society of Fear where anyone is at the mercy of being labeled a terrorist for standing up for rights we took for granted just over a decade ago. Read about how we’re waging war against ourselves at ****dregstudiosart.blogspot.com/2011/09/living-in-society-of-fear-ten-years.html
hard times !
the headline should be read:US failed to give Hong Kong government and her people crucial explanation on her hackings into our Internet Exchange and our computers since 2009 ! Right ?
hard times !
a price will be paid for this blatant breach of trust ? Whose trust ? The trust of American government led by Obama was/is an honest one while cyber-hackers of her are China and other hostile nations ? Now the trust of the public of the world (especially the netizens) on America has plunged to zero ! No more trust on America's pledge towards safeguarding of human rights, protection of privacy and freedom of expression.What has Snowden done wrong ? Disclosing the wrongdoings committed by his own country's secret surveillance agency:the National Security Agency against all the people in the world through its cyber-spying activities on cell phones and internet with every possible means ?
Hideous is how Kerry dares to speak about building trust if they do continuously spy on all of us.... Is only one side to build a trust while the other side is allowed to cheat?
And if caught red-handed: denial, denial, denial (as US administration always does and than looks like a 5yo kid when needs to say, well.... we DID **** up BUT... (some BS explanation))....
I can't believe that US citizens are so narrow-minded to not see that there is no more freedom in US....
@"The White House said it did not accept Hong Kong's explanation, warning the decision to allow Snowden to leave had harmed Sino-US relations."
Well tough luck! We do not accept the White House's explanation why USA has to spy on us. When are you going to bring criminal charges against your own agents for breaking international laws? Can'ty you even recognize a home goal when you score one?



SCMP.com Account