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  • Jul 30, 2014
  • Updated: 11:18pm
Edward Snowden
NewsHong Kong

Hong Kong minister rejects US accusations of deliberately delaying Snowden's arrest

US failed to provide information vital to processing whistle-blower's arrest

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 25 June, 2013, 9:21pm
UPDATED : Wednesday, 26 June, 2013, 5:29am

Hong Kong’s justice secretary said on Tuesday the United States had failed to provide crucial information necessary to support its request for the arrest of whistle-blower Edward Snowden before he had left the city.

The missing information included things as basic as a confirmation of Snowden’s full name and passport number, Secretary for Justice Rimsky Yuen Kwok-keung said on Tuesday.

“Up to the moment Snowden left the city, the US government had not replied to the Department of Justice’s request for the necessary information,” he said.

There was no legal basis to restrict or ban Mr Snowden from leaving Hong Kong
Secretary for Justice, Rimsky Yuen Kwok-keung

“Therefore, it was impossible and there was no legal basis under Hong Kong law for the Department of Justice to ask a Hong Kong judge to sign off on a provisional arrest warrant,” Yuen said. “[Thus] there then was no legal basis to restrict or ban Mr Snowden from leaving Hong Kong.”

Yuen’s public remarks – his first on the Snowden case – came after the White House said it was disappointed with the city’s failure to arrest the fugitive whistle-blower who has made public information detailing US internet spying programmes around the world.

Snowden left Hong Kong on Sunday and is believed to be in a transit area of a Moscow airport. The former CIA contractor had previously told the Post in an exclusive report that the US had been hacking into computers in Hong Kong and China since 2009.

Yuen said the US government had not responded to Hong Kong’s request for a confirmation of Mr Snowden name and passport number even though it had mentioned that he was a US passport holder, Yuen said.

The name used in US government diplomatic documents was Edward James Snowden, the US Department of Justice referred to him as Edward J Snowden, and Hong Kong’s Immigration Department had him recorded as Edward Joseph Snowden, Yuen said.

“I couldn’t say the three names were consistent, so we needed further clarification. Otherwise, there would have been legal problems with a provisional arrest warrant,” Yuen said.

The US also failed to explain to Hong Kong authorities how two of the three charges the US mentioned in its arrest request fell within the scope of a US-Hong Kong rendition of fugitive offenders agreement signed in 1996.

The Hong Kong government on June 15 received the US request for the provisional arrest of Snowden on three charges, namely unauthorised disclosure of national defence information, unauthorised disclosure of intelligence and stealing state property.

Yuen said the US had failed to tell Hong Kong authorities which part of the agreement covered the first two charges.

He also said documents from the US made no mention of what evidence they had against Snowden, a requirement for Hong Kong courts to move ahead with a provisional arrest.

Yuen chronicled the process of how Hong Kong had been dealing with a US request for the provisional arrest of Snowden starting from June 15. He rejected US suggestions that Hong Kong had been employing delaying tactics.

Any suggestion that we deliberately let Mr Snowden get away and had done anything to obstruct normal operations is totally untrue

“We had not been deliberately delaying the process. All along, we have acted in full accordance with the law,” Yuen said.

“And any suggestion that we deliberately let Mr Snowden get away and had done anything to obstruct normal operations is totally untrue.”

He said that on June 17, Hong Kong e-mailed the US Department of Justice, saying that it was drafting a list of questions for clarifications and further details needed to process the request.

Yuen said that on June 21 – two days before Snowden left — the Security Bureau wrote to the US government asking it to clarify reports that the US had been hacking into computers in Hong Kong.

On the same afternoon, Hong Kong’s Department of Justice e-mailed and sent by speed-post to the US its request for further information to support the US request for the provisional arrest of Snowden.

As of Tuesday, Hong Kong had not received a reply from the US to this request.



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This article is now closed to comments

Why didn't the US respond quickly if this matter is important?
The intrigue is delightful.
If a cop in the US writes your name/date/location/license number wrong on a parking ticket, you don't have to pay
the sun also rises
Edward Joseph (not James of course) Snowden maybe a criminal, but he is a criminal of conscience who committed the acts of revelations of his country's intelligence top-secrets not for his own benefits but for his countrymen (or compatriots) and netizens elsewhere in the world. We Hongkongers should be proud of ourselves in this saga---------hosting him for more than a month and letting him reveal the shocking secrets to the media here in our hotel and a secret place.Finally ,our 'rule of law' and procedural fairness has made him left here safe and sound for Moscow airport where he is staying now. We should be proud of our courageous and selfless acts. We should !
Well done for HK. Am proud!
Edward Snowden, is a spy, a spy for freedom, a spy for the people of the USA and the world. He is a hero. Hong Kong did not only do the right thing, but the best thing possible. Whether or not it used the name and passport number thing as an excuse or a reason is irrelevant, HK did the right thing.
After the past few days reading these comments, most, if not all of my doubt has been removed as to why this model of altruism selected Hong Kong in the first place. In one fell swoop he enjoyed the power of Beijing as he was being shielded by the naivety of Hong Kong. Brilliant!
The US Department of Justice fumbles the ball but still expects special treatment just like it gets from the tame courts in the US because the DOJ thinks that it's mistakes should not matter. HK, where the law matters...... Just rose on my list of places. The US takes every opportunity to prove it is not the beacon of freedom to the world but the bully to the world. Time to pivot on home.
Sticks Evans
Hong Kong is run by rich people for rich people. Don't fool yourself. No better or perhaps worse than U.s. in the courts.
HK Government are Butt-Boys for Beijing. Now, Assume the position.....




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