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  • Dec 18, 2014
  • Updated: 8:11pm
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

Let me guess. You're one of those pro American government blowhards that think Snowden should be quickly arrested and convicted without due process?

Furthermore the US trampled on HK people's rights and BROKE HK LAW you nationalistic gasbag. Let's also not forget that the NSA also violated the 4th amendment of the US constitution.

Secretary for Justice Rimsky was under no obligation to make a snap judgment with regards to Snowden. Considering the circumstances, I think the HK government acted rather quickly and respected Snowden's human rights.
"This will go down in history as when the "two systems" were practically dispensed with and Hong Kong became integrated into the PRC propaganda machine. The comments of Rimsky Yuen and his fellow comrades insult the intelligence of my primary school children.
Think what you will of the US and its Prism programme, but this will be an indelible stain on Hong Kong's standing in the world."

dlapiper you are totally disingenuous and shameless. The US government provided HK absolutely no evidence, and didn't even get Snowden's name right!

Maybe in the USA there is no more due process, but it certainly exists in HK! HK will not meekly hand Snowden over simply because Eric Holder arrogantly demands it! We follow the rule of law here.
This day will be the day HK stood up for everyone whose privacy and rights is being violated by a shamless hyprocritical mass murdering gov't, piper. I know you are **** because your spine is aching from trying to stand straight.
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.
No need to be personal or uncivilized name-calling! Just state your case!
Well done Hong Kong for following the rule of Law. Thumbs up...
Considerations about Snowden's actions, and whether they were right or wrong, and whether the US is right or wrong to use covert programs, are of course very important. However my concern is about the time taken for the HK authorities to come up with the questions it wanted answers to, which seems very long. What about if this had been a case of a criminal involved in drugs, illegal arms trading, or people traf****? This kind of delay would make it simple for such a criminal to slip out of HK, certainly not to our credit.
Disingenuous b.s. from a trained barrister. It took your department 6 days to come up with those questions? Why couldn't you give Holder a heads up when you spoke to him the day before instead of giving him the impression you'd cooperate fully? The answer is obvious. By waiting until Friday to pose your questions you maximize your chances of creating an excuse to let Snowden escape. If you really wanted to cooperate with the U.S. you could have done so. This was deliberate obfuscation. You wanted this hot potato off the Chinese plate.
**** off you **** of a troll. You're not even an American? So why are you so personally invested in this story then?

You're better educated about American rights than I am? You're merely stating your opinion like I am you sack of ****.

Also despite that troll bomb you posted above, you still failed to defend against the fact that the US violated HK law. The US was handled by HK and China in exactly the manner that they deserved.

I think it was reasonable for HK officials to take their sweet time with handling the extradition. It was also acceptable to the legal community as a whole. Nobody is screaming about it except pig headed Americans such as yourself who are mad that their Big Daddy Uncle Sam didn't have their way with HK.
Like I said already: **** off.



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