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  • Dec 18, 2014
  • Updated: 3:28pm
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

John Adams
Precisely so !
Check USA domestic news as to what is going on in the USA these days ( and especially as the DOJ)
Believable !
Rimsky may not be the model of efficiency and moral perfection, but by comparison to Holder he is both a genius and and an angel
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.
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
Hong Kong should have kept Snowden and flipped the US a royal bird.
The statement by the Secretary of Justice is a dumb explanation based on technicality.
Sticks Evans
What about all the money laundering in Hong Kong Banks.? The unfair treatment of foreign workers? Racism against Mainlanders? The NSA shares info tel with China and China is helping in Afghanistan. Intel is collected by all powers including the HK PD. Wake up. Snowden is a guy looking for attention and wants to cause chaos. China wants it to go away so fat Americans keep buying fat food and extra large clothing.
Let me guess. You're a misguided bleeding heart flower child who spent too much time smoking ganja in Goa or your way back from being kicked out of your Peace Corps assignment in Nepal. Sorry, that gives you too much credit since Peace Corps actually requires some substantive chops. I should say after being kicked out of your cult's fecal water purification project. You don't know if Snowden had evidence that constitutes a violation of anything in the Bill of Rights. All of that is pure speculation until examined objectively in a court of law and for now, those are all allegations based on the conclusions of a contractor who didn't even graduate from high school without a GED. As for what I want for that contractor? Slow death at the hands of some brutal cell mate of course. Even if it's just in a holding cell. I don't care whether he is convicted or not.
By the way, unlike you, I'm not even American. Just better educated about American rights and law than you are.
Sticks Evans
Court of law? That's a good one. The courts are a joke wherever you are



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