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  • Dec 26, 2014
  • Updated: 12:25pm
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.


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This article is now closed to comments

As an American, I am pretty embarrassed about our government. Our US government cannot even provide the passport number and full name of the person they seek. This is the fall of our great nation and manifest how the leadership has gone sour.
I am not as brave as Snowden and hope he is able to run away from our mean and untrustworthy nation.
I think, like most people, Hong Kong government handles Mr. Edward Snowden incidents very well. Even, Washington provide crucial information to comply with Hong Kung’s laws. The question is that the prosecution of Mr. Edward Snowden with violating espionage laws under the Espionage Act is very questionable. Mr. Snowden is more whistle-blower than espionage as US has claimed. US First Amendment, one which is broad, progressive and encompasses almost any manner of expression. However, it seems to me if speech runs counter to the needs and actions of a government, said speech is deemed non-protected and in violation of Espionage Act. I do not agree with Mr. Jay Carney, White House Press Secretary. Mr. Carney claimed that Mr. Snowden “failure to criticize these regimes suggests that his true motive throughout has been to injure the national security of the United States not to advance Internet freedom and free speech.” It is obviously that Mr. Carney or US government uses Espionage Act of 1917 to interpret the First Amendment for purposes of its own self interest.
America has had a long history of providing asylums to all sorts of corrupt officials. I should remind our government that we have provided a safe heaven for those most Asian or African corruptive officials. Any forms of corruptions are no different from normal criminals, it does not matter if it is bribery, extortion, embezzlement, drug traf****, money laundering, or human traf****.
Jennie PC Chiang/江佩珍
hard times !
Ohh,this good-for-nothing non-racist,so-called,'KwunTongBypass has brushed up his English and come back to attack our Leung administration which has fulfilled a good job in letting Mr.Snowden,our leaker-hero,safely leave the territory and is now in Moscow---where he might be questioned by the KGB--secret agents of Russia for more details of the cyber-spying acts done by the NSA of America.This KwunTongBypass can only sigh and cry,cry and sigh until dawn to come ! Right ? ha ! ha ! Well done,our SAR administration in this saga !
hard times !
Dare this Obama---the first black president in the States' history to send in a drone to blow up our Police headquarters or the residence of either the Chief Executive or the Commissioner of Police or even the secretary for security or...No way ! Hong Kong is well-protected in its air-space by the S300 air-defence systems (soon to be replaced by the just-purchased S400) deployed in Shenzhen and China is neither Pakistan or Libya or other small nations which could/can be easily bullied by the Big Brother ! Our President Xi Jin-ping pledged that once China is attacked,she will definitely counterattack and won't give in in any ways ! just wait and see how we will teach a lession by the Big Brother for angering him for releasing his people's hero----Edward Snowden. Just wait and see !
John Adams
I'm pretty sure that if CY says the US Dept of Justice did not even specify Snowden's full name and passport number he is correct ( just hoping - touch wood - that this statement by CY is more accurate than his statement about his illegal extensions to his home !)
Assuming that's the case, then full marks to CY and his team, and zero marks to Washington. (Also thanks to Albert Ho for his part)
I have first hand experience of how roughly the US handles legal things when it wishes to do so.
On the one side : Our Chinese agent recently went to the USA ( where he has been several times before on legitimate business) to attend an exhibition. At immigration he was detained without explanation for 24 hours and his lap top was confiscated. Then he was allowed entry to the US to attend the exhibition, which he did, and he was allowed to return to China as planned. Despite numerous phone calls from our US head office there was no word of explanation, no word of apology, and still several months later the lap top has still not been returned.
On the other side our company has many times complained to the US authorities about another ( much bigger) US company which has openly violated US export embargoes on selling equipment to make WMD. No action was ever taken.
So much for the "rule of law"
Wow, it's true we've outsmarted them. They can't even fill in the correct name and passport number. How on Earth then is the application form from US to HK legal ?
Mutual trust? I don't think there can be any genuine trust between these two nations regardless of the Snowden case. Would you trust a country that had bombed your embassy and said 'sorry - our map was outdated'? I am referring to the 'accident' that occurred over a decade ago... I am sorry to say this but Uncle Sam is never to be trusted.
Harold Cameron
This is typical of the arrogance of US trying to bludgeon every nation in the world to do their bidding. Well done Hong Kong, well done China, well done Russia for standing up the the big bully. The US would be the first to complain if their citizens were the subject of foreign monitoring- everything just has to be on US terms, doesn't it? Very well done Edward Snowden, the rest of the world owes you big time for exposing how the so called democratic USA thinks of every other nation.
hard times !
down with this so-called,'KwunTongBypass' who can never utter anything constructive or convincing but instead pointing fingers at other contributors here ! Shame on this nasty guy ! Shame on him and his so-called 'words' !
"We do not accept the White House's explanation why USA has to spy on us"
But they haven't explained..



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