• Mon
  • Apr 21, 2014
  • Updated: 7:55am

Edward Snowden

30-year-old American Edward Snowden, a contract employee at the National Security Agency, is the whistleblower behind significant revelations that surfaced in June 2013 about the US government's top secret, extensive domestic surveillance programmes. Snowden flew to Hong Kong from Hawaii in May 2013, and supplied confidential US government documents to media outlets including the Guardian

NewsHong Kong
LAW

Hong Kong lawmakers blast US request for Snowden arrest as 'sloppy'

Lawmakers reject Washington’s criticism of Hong Kong’s handling of case, while Obama dismisses whistle-blower as a ‘hacker’

PUBLISHED : Friday, 28 June, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 29 June, 2013, 8:09am

Hong Kong lawmakers yesterday lambasted the American government's "loose practice of the rule of law", even as a top US diplomat warned of difficulties ahead in mending relations between the city and Washington.

Amid the war of words, US President Barack Obama sought to downplay the international chase for whistle-blower Edward Snowden, dismissing Snowden as "a 29-year-old hacker".

Snowden, who is now 30, is wanted on espionage charges for leaking details of secret US government surveillance.

How could the US government issue documents each bearing three different names for Snowden? This shows their practice is sloppy.
Lawmaker, barrister Ronny Tong Ka-wah SC

The US government had accused Hong Kong officials of feigning confusion over Snowden's name as a pretext for not detaining him before he fled to Russia. A US Department of Justice spokeswoman said the city's request for clarification and additional information was not genuine as images of the former US intelligence contractor were widely available through news outlets.

"Hong Kong cannot simply rely on Snowden's picture to confirm his identity. It would be a serious mistake if the Hong Kong government arrested the wrong person," said pan-democratic lawmaker and barrister Ronny Tong Ka-wah SC.

The US government could not expect Hong Kong officials to make an arrest based on media photos of Snowden, he said, criticising the US Department of Justice for "not understanding and respecting Hong Kong's legal system and the spirit of rule of law".

"It is ridiculous for the US - which always brags about their respect for human rights - to be so loose in handling the request for Snowden's arrest. How could the US government issue documents each bearing three different names for Snowden? This shows their practice is sloppy."

US consul-general Stephen Young said that he had spent three years in Hong Kong working for a good relationship between the city and the US, which had now suffered "a loss of trust".

Rebuilding that trust, Young said, "is not going to be easy," adding that, "where we have a whole series of agreements, and protocols and practices - our confidence has been shaken."

Lawmaker Ip Kwok-him, of the Democratic Alliance for the Betterment and Progress of Hong Kong, said the US government was "shameless" for heaping accusations against Hong Kong to dodge questions about cybersnooping in the city and on the mainland. "The US government is talking nonsense," he said.

Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying rejected the accusation that Hong Kong had a pretext for delaying the request for Snowden's arrest. The city's officials were following the principle of procedural justice when it asked the US government to provide information on Snowden, he said.

At a news conference in Dakar, Senegal, Obama made light of the matter, saying the US would not be scrambling jets or engaging in diplomatic bartering to get Snowden extradited. He said the damage to national security had already been done and his focus now was making sure it could not happen again.

"I'm not going to have one case with a suspect who we're trying to extradite suddenly be elevated to the point where I've got to start doing wheeling and dealing and trading on a whole host of other issues, simply to get a guy extradited," Obama said.

Obama said he hadn't called President Xi Jinping or Russian President Vladimir Putin to request their co-operation, saying: "I shouldn't have to."

Obama said such matters are routinely dealt with at a law-enforcement level, calling Snowden's extradition "not exceptional from a legal perspective."

 

Share

Related topics

More on this story

69

This article is now closed to comments

saimax
There Goes Visa free Access to HKSAR passport holders to US down the DRAIN. If US is smart then they should know that it will be easy for anyone to mess with US and run to Hong Kong....Thus US must allow visa free access to hksar passport holders with a better extradition treaty as part of agreement.
captam
Who their right mind wants to visit the almost lawless and dangerous gun-toting USA? They are doing Hongkongers a favour by not granting visa-free access.
Better still, impose a visa requirement here on Americans. We can then sift out the CIA spies.
jayb
yes, be a MAN. man up!!!
whymak
Everyone uses rule of law to rationalize his own bias. Here is my take.
There is more than prima facie evidence that the US has violated HK law by spying on our citizens and institutions. Our Justice Department must now enforce the law. It has no choice but to subpoena those NSA scumbags, including draft dodger - 5 time deferment - Dickhead Cheney. (Sorry about that, the dumb computer censored his name.) Yes, we have every right to hold Snowden as material witness and deny US request for extradition. While we have just cause to request extradition of alleged US violators without diplomatic immunity, will the US comply with terms bound by 1996 treaty?
In the end, it will be all about realpolitik, nothing more and nothing less.
the sun also rises
of course their so-called practice is sloopy to the extreme.If this mr.Snowden is really their most wanted man-----so-called 'a 29-year-old hacker' compared to the largest hacker in the world :the National Security Agency of America which is directly responsible to President Obama and his National Intelligence Committee----why their documents sent here bearing three different names of the most wanted man: Edward J.Snowden, Edward James Snowden and Edward Joseph Snowden ? I wonder.
vindaloo99@gmail.com
There is a huge difference between "hacking" and "surveillance". And, yes, I understand the confusion over Snowden's name, because there must be thousands of people in Hong Kong with the surname Snowden. Not.
the sun also rises
how would you explain the hackings committed by the NSA of America into our Internet Exchange at Chinese Univ.which is a hub of our servers which handle over 90% of our web passages and the hackings into our public officials:the ministers,Exco.& Legco members,committee chairmen,NPC delegates &CPPCC members ; businessmen(big shots and pro-China ones) and even students ? Are/Were our students suspected of being terrorists ? Besides, as Mr.Snowden is the most wanted man of the Obama administration,how could important documents sent here bearing his names carried three different versions ? Right ? Negligence of duties of the DOJ can never explain it !
ssslmcs01
Just a few weeks ago Obama was sitting down with Xi in California criticizing "China" for hacking American computers. As it turns out this was an extreme example of the pot calling the kettle black. There are laws in place and a constitution that protects peoples rights. It seems that the American government feels that they are above that and that their fight against terrorism justifies breaking all the rules.
As for Hong Kong letting Mr. Snowden leave, if the arrest warrant didn't have the correct name on it or there were other questionable factors that needed clarification, then it seems like it would be difficult to enforce the warrant. In addition to that, Hong Kong as a purported victim of this hacking should consider who committed a crime, Snowden or the American spy agency (U.S. Government). If Snowden is reporting a crime against Hong Kong then he should be welcomed here, which he isn't now because he doesn't hold a HKID or a valid travel document.
And for the Americans to blame China is ridiculous. There is no proof that the Chinese are involved.
Carparklee
Totally agree to Tong's comment about the sloppy quality or probably arrogant working attitude. In fact, from President Obama's comment made in South Africa on the case, though not a vivid one, he kind of put the things into an execution level problem that he could not be more careless about it let it alone to further raise it with his counterparts at an higher diplomatic level. Civil servants in the US, wouldn't it be a heads-up to you? Improve the work accuracy and respect about the counter-party in the future, please.
goncalo
HK has lost confidence in the US, and for a good reason. The decline of the rule of law in the US (remember Guantanamo?) is part of the process of America's putrefaction.

Pages

Login

SCMP.com Account

or