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.
William Burns says US disappointed with China's handling of Edward Snowden
US officials told their Chinese counterparts that they were “very disappointed” with the way authorities in Beijing and Hong Kong handled the case of Edward Snowden, the former intellegence contractor who disclosed U.S. programmes that collect phone and internet data.
“We were very disappointed with how authorities in Beijing and Hong Kong handled the Snowden case,” Deputy Secretary of State William Burns said at the close of strategic and economic talks in Washington today. Their decision to let Snowden leave Hong Kong “undermined the trust needed to manage difficult issues,” Burns said.
Snowden, who is believed to be in the transit lounge of a Moscow airport, had been based in Hawaii. He fled to Hong Kong before his revelations were made public. Officials in Hong Kong allowed him to travel to Russia, despite U.S. requests to extradite him.
“Over the past two days we have made clear that China’s handling of this case was not consistent with the spirit of Sunnylands,” the private estate in California where President Barack Obama recently held a summit with Chinese President Xi Jinping, “or with the type of relationship, the new model that we both seek to build,” Burns said.
Snowden asserted that the U.S. had been hacking into computers in Hong Kong and mainland China since 2009.