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.
We don't owe anyone an apology, says US consul over Edward Snowden affair
Hong Kong still waiting for US reply on Snowden hacking allegations, says security chief
Outgoing US consul in Hong Kong Stephen Young said on Thursday the US did not owe any country an apology in relation to the alleged hacking activities disclosed by whistle-blower Edward Snowden.
But Young did say the United States government would address queries made by Hong Kong officials on the issue in its own time and manner.
"But I don’t think we owe an apology to anyone," he said when speaking at the Foreign Correspondents' Club in Central on Thursday afternoon.
“Because I think the real root of the problem here is we have somebody [Snowden] who violated his trust with the United States and chose Hong Kong as a place to demonstrate that.”
He also said that Snowden had made a lot of allegations and many seemed to be self-serving in an attempt to garner sympathy for himself.
Young did say that the Snowden saga had damaged the trust between Hong Kong and the US but he believed it could be restored.
"I wouldn’t be leaving here with the generally optimistic view of Hong Kong if I thought that the damaged trust couldn’t be restored."
Earlier on Thursday, Secretary for Security Lai Tung-kwok told Hong Kong lawmakers that Hong Kong was still waiting for a reply from the United States on claims made by Snowden that US agencies had hacked into the city’s computers.
Lai was speaking at a Legislative Council meeting to discuss the revelations made last month by the American whistle-blower and ex-CIA worker.
“The Security Bureau wrote to the US on June 22 to seek an explanation. We are looking forward to a comprehensive and thorough clarification for Hongkongers as soon as possible,” Lai said in an opening speech.
Lai said that with regard to the Snowdon case, his allegations of US hacking into Hong Kong’s computer systems was the top concern of the city’s lawmakers and people.
He also said the city had facilities to guard against cyberattacks and had invested in the research and development of new internet security technology.
Snowden told the South China Morning Post in mid-June – soon after fleeing his home country – that Washington had been hacking into mainland China and Hong Kong computer systems for years. One target in the city, he said, was the hub for Hong Kong’s internet traffic located on the Chinese University of Hong Kong’s campus in Sha Tin.
Snowden, who is wanted by Washington for leaking details of the US intelligence surveillance programmes, is now seeking temporary asylum in Russia after spending more than three weeks in a Moscow airport transit lounge trying to find a country that would grant him asylum.