News / Asia

Hong Kong Leader Defends Role in Letting NSA Leaker Flee

Hong Kong Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying speaks during a news conference following his maiden policy address in Hong Kong, January 16, 2013 file photo.
Hong Kong Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying speaks during a news conference following his maiden policy address in Hong Kong, January 16, 2013 file photo.
VOA News
Hong Kong's leader has defended his role in allowing a fugitive former U.S. intelligence contractor to leave the territory on Sunday despite demands by Washington for the American's extradition.

Hong Kong Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying said Monday there was "no legal basis" to stop Edward Snowden from leaving the city while authorities were processing the U.S. extradition request and "asking (Washington) for further important information" on the case.

The former U.S. National Security Agency contractor faces U.S. charges of espionage for disclosing clandestine American surveillance programs.

U.S. National Security Council spokesperson Caitlin Hayden said Sunday Washington is "disappointed" by the decision to permit Snowden to flee Hong Kong.  She said the United States had submitted a "legally valid" request to Hong Kong to arrest him for purposes of extradition under a bilateral agreement.

Hayden also said Washington registered "strong objections" to Hong Kong authorities and the Chinese government and noted that such behavior is "detrimental" to U.S.-Hong Kong and U.S.-China relations.

Leung acknowledged what he called "expressions of displeasure" from some authorities in the United States.

But, he insisted Snowden's departure from Hong Kong as a "normal passenger" on a Russian flight to Moscow was lawful.

"This is a good example to illustrate 'one country, two systems', Hong Kong people ruling Hong Kong, and the high degree of autonomy that we have," said Leung. "It is also a good example to illustrate the rule of law that we uphold and the procedural fairness and justice that we uphold."

Under the one country-two systems concept, Hong Kong has autonomy on social and economic affairs but Beijing exercises authority over matters of foreign policy and defense.

A U.S. official told Western news agencies on Sunday that Washington revoked Snowden's passport the day before to try to prevent him from traveling beyond Hong Kong, where he had been in hiding for a month since fleeing his home in Hawaii.  Leung said Hong Kong authorities had not received any U.S. documents showing that Snowden's passport was invalid.

Hong Kong anti-establishment lawmaker Albert Ho disputed Leung's suggestion that the government handled the Snowden case independently.

Ho said he met with Snowden to offer legal advice and learned that a "middleman" had urged the American to depart the city, promising safe passage to a third country.  The lawmaker said Hong Kong officials declined to tell him anything about the safe passage offer, leading him to suspect the middleman acted on the orders of Beijing, leaving the city's government with little say in the matter.

Ho is a longtime critic of perceived Chinese government interference in Hong Kong affairs.

Some analysts said it appears that China orchestrated Snowden's exit to avoid a potentially lengthy legal battle in Hong Kong over the U.S. extradition request. They said Beijing wants to prevent the case from becoming an additional irritant in its already testy relationship with Washington.

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said Monday that Beijing "respects" the Hong Kong government's handling of Snowden. She gave no details about any role the Chinese government might have played in the case.

You May Like

Photogallery South Africa Bans Travelers From Ebola-stricken Countries

South Africans returning from affected West African countries will be thoroughly screened, required to fill out medical questionnaire, health minister says More

Multimedia UN Launches ‘Biggest Aid Operation in 30 Years’ in Iraq

Move aims to help thousands of Iraqi religious minorities who fled their homes as Kurdish, Iraqi government forces battle Sunni insurgents More

Video African Media Tries to Educate Public About Ebola

IT specialists, together with radio and TV reporters, are battling misinformation and prejudice about disease More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Gaza Conflict, Hamas Popularity Challenge Abbasi
X
Scott Stearns
August 21, 2014 9:20 PM
The Palestinian unity government of Mahmoud Abbas has failed to convince Hamas to agree to Egyptian-negotiated terms with Israel on a Gaza cease-fire. VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns reports on what the Gaza conflict means for President Abbas, with whom U.S. officials have worked for years on a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
Video

Video Gaza Conflict, Hamas Popularity Challenge Abbas

The Palestinian unity government of Mahmoud Abbas has failed to convince Hamas to agree to Egyptian-negotiated terms with Israel on a Gaza cease-fire. VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns reports on what the Gaza conflict means for President Abbas, with whom U.S. officials have worked for years on a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
Video

Video Nigeria's 'Nollywood' Movie Industry Rolls in High Gear

Twenty years after its birth in a video shop in Lagos, Nigeria's "Nollywood" is one of the most prolific film industries on earth. Despite low budgets and whirlwind production schedules, Nigerian films are wildly popular in Africa and industry professionals say they hope, in the future, their films will be as great in quality as they are in quantity. Heather Murdock has more for VOA from Lagos.
Video

Video UN Launches 'Biggest Aid Operation in 30 Years' in Iraq

The United Nations has launched what it describes as one of the biggest aid operations in 30 years in northern Iraq, as hundreds of thousands of refugees flee the extremist Sunni militant group calling itself the Islamic State. As Kurdish and Iraqi forces battle the Sunni insurgents, the fighting has forced more people to flee their homes. Kurdish authorities say the international community must act now to avert a humanitarian catastrophe. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video Cambodian American Hip Hop Artist Sings of Personal Struggles

A growing underground movement of Cambodian American hip hop artists is rapping about the struggles of living in urban America. Most, if not all of them, are refugees or children of refugees who came to the United States from Cambodia to escape the Khmer Rouge genocide of the 1970s. Through their music, the artists hope to give voice to immigrants who have been struggling quietly for years. Elizabeth Lee reports from Long Beach, California.
Video

Video African Media Tries to Educate Public About Ebola

While the Ebola epidemic continues to claim lives in West Africa, information technology specialists, together with radio and TV reporters, are battling misinformation and prejudice about the disease - using social media to educate the public about the deadly virus. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Ferguson Calls for Justice as Anger, Violence Grips Community

Violence, anger and frustration continue to grip the small St. Louis suburb of Ferguson, Missouri. Protests broke out after a white police officer fatally shot an unarmed black teenager on August 9. The case has sparked outrage around the nation and prompted the White House to send U.S. Attorney Eric Holder to the small community of just over 20,000 people. VOA’s Mary Alice Salinas has more from Ferguson.
Video

Video Beheading Of US Journalist Breeds Outrage

U.S. and British authorities have launched an investigation into an Islamic State video showing the beheading of kidnapped American journalist James Foley by a militant with a British accent. The extremist group, which posted the video on the Internet Tuesday, said the murder was revenge for U.S. airstrikes on militant positions in Iraq - and has threatened to execute another American journalist it is holding. Henry Ridgwell has more from London.
Video

Video Family Robots - The Next Big Thing?

Robots that can help us with daily chores like cooking and cleaning are a long way off, but automatons that serve as family companions may be much closer. Researchers in the United States, France, Japan and other countries are racing to build robots that can entertain and perform some simpler tasks for us. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video In Ukraine, Fear and Distrust Remain Where Fighting has Stopped

As the Ukrainian military reclaims control of eastern cities from pro-Russian separatists, residents are getting a chance to rebuild their lives. VOA's Gabe Joselow reports from the town of Kramatorsk in Donetsk province, where a sense of fear is still in the air, and distrust of the government in Kyiv still runs deep.
Video

Video Five Patients Given Experimental Ebola Drug Said to Be Improving

The World Health Organization has approved the use of experimental treatments for Ebola patients in West Africa. The Ebola outbreak there is unprecedented, the disease deadly. The number of people who have died from Ebola has surpassed 1,200. VOA's Carol Pearson reports on the ethical considerations of allowing experimental drugs to be used.
Video

Video China Targets Overseas Assets of Corrupt Officials

As China presses forward with its anti-graft effort, authorities are targeting corrupt officials who have sent family members and assets overseas. The efforts have stirred up a debate at home on exactly how many officials take that route and how likely it is they will be caught. Rebecca Valli has this report.
Video

Video Leading The Fight Against Islamic State, Kurds Question Iraqi Future

Western countries including the United States have begun arming the Kurdish Peshmerga forces in northern Iraq to aid their battle against extremist Sunni militants from the Islamic State. But there are concerns that a heavily-armed Kurdistan Regional Government, or KRG, might seek to declare independence and cause the break-up of the Iraqi state. As Henry Ridgwell reports from London, the KRG says it will only seek greater autonomy from Baghdad.
Video

Video In Rural Kenya, Pressure Builds Against Female Circumcision

In some Kenyan communities, female genital mutilation remains a rite of passage. But activists are pushing back, with education for girls and with threats of punishment those who perform the circumcision. Mohammed Yusuf looks at the practice in the rural eastern community of Tharaka-Nithi.

AppleAndroid