• Thu
  • Dec 18, 2014
  • Updated: 6:41pm
Edward Snowden
NewsHong Kong

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."



Related topics

More on this story

For unlimited access to:

SCMP.com SCMP Tablet Edition SCMP Mobile Edition 10-year news archive



This article is now closed to comments

You love US so you will say this. we love our city so we disagree with you. it is not matter of sentiments. it is matter of law. How any LI Ka Shing in Hong Kong? Only one? common there are plenty of Li Ka Shing, if one is wanted this does not mean Hong Kong government should arrest all with same name.
Sticks Evans
You have to be the most arrogant commenter I have ever read. Perhaps Beijing is correct to censor as they do. The level of comments here is so low you have won. Your arrogance is unlimited and is not worth anyone's time anymore. Good luck with democracy when you get it.
Sticks Evans
you are a moron.
Mr. CALIGULA or Prof. Caligiuri or by any other name, your phony title fools no one. From your incoherent speech and writing skills, I place your educational level somewhere between 4th and 5th grade.
After rendering this teacher's verdict, I hope other readers won't waste any more time on rebuttals.
Sticks Evans
You are the egomaniac posting your **** about anyone but you. You know nothing about others lives and what the region is. You are a moron and a baffoon spouting racist hate. Go back under your rock and stay there.
The CE of Hong Kong is now above ciivil law? Now that is special. What law program did you get thrown out of. You have to be one of the dumbest most arrogant toads on the internet.
I cannot wait for Hong Kong to gain democracy and the responsibilities that go along with it.
It is a great city. But if you left it would be even greater.
Reader Sticks Evans:
For your information, US intentional homicides are 50 times that of Hong Kong. Considering that less than 10% of US population are living in inner cities, violence of Americans is breathtaking by civilized world standards.
Texas alone has fried 500 prisoners since 1982 with quite a few of the executions occurring under the governorship of King George the Moron.
Of course, America is a great nation. It's provincial people like you who refuse to own up to US war and related state crimes against the world that belittles this great republic.
yes, be a MAN. man up!!!
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.
How do you figure?
How many people called Snowden live in Hong Kong?



SCMP.com Account