News / Asia

    Experts: Snowden Extradition from Hong Kong Could be Complicated

    NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden giving an interview about why he leaked intelligence information.
    NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden giving an interview about why he leaked intelligence information.
    VOA News
    Experts said Monday that any attempt to extradite the man who says he leaked details about the U.S. government's secret monitoring of phone calls and Internet use from Hong Kong could be long and complicated.

    The U.S. and Hong Kong signed an extradition treaty in 1996, just before the British handed over control of the territory to China, in which both parties agreed to hand over fugitives. While Hong Kong is a semi-autonomous Chinese territory, Beijing can veto extraditions if it believes returning a suspect to a foreign country would impinge on its "essential public interest or policy."

    Edward Snowden, who says he worked as a contractor for the highly secretive National Security Agency in the United States, said he disclosed the country's surveillance programs because he grew increasingly concerned about the extent of the monitoring. He had taken up residence in a Hong Kong hotel, and on Sunday he urged two newspapers he had leaked information to, Britain's Guardian and The Washington Post, to disclose his identity.

    A New York lawyer who has handled international extradition cases, Robert Anello, told VOA that any extradition of Snowden could take years, and be a complicated decision for China.

    “Whether or not they would decide to override it and keep him is a political issue that would be a very involved decision. I mean, given China’s relationship with the U.S., which at least appears to be relatively good these days, one might argue against it. On the other hand, if his computer is full of important information that would be of interest to a foreign government, they would have an interest in overriding it and maintaining him there," said Anello/

    Ultimately, Anello said he thinks "the odds are very substantial" that the United States will be able to extradite Snowden.

    Snowden told the Guardian he went to Hong Kong because it "has a strong tradition of free speech."

    The Hong Kong government said only that it would abide by its laws, and could not comment on individual cases. U.S. authorities say they are in the initial stages of investigating the leaks, and no formal criminal charges have been filed.

    One Hong Kong legal expert, Ronny Tong, said he is not certain that even if the U.S. charges Snowden with offenses related to his acknowledged leak of the documents to the two newspapers it would lead to his extradition.

    "If he is being indicted for the crime of espionage in United States, again I am not sure that that would suffice in Hong Kong, because in Hong Kong there is no law as yet which covers espionage or covers the leakage of national interest because we have failed in passing Article 23 legislation, which is the national security legislation in Hong Kong," said Tong.

    Another expert, Shi Yinhong at the U.S. Research Center at Renmin University, questioned whether the Chinese government would want to approve Snowden's release to U.S. authorities.
     
    "I also think that the Chinese government also will consider the indirect negative impact upon Chinese international prestige, because it's not in Chinese interest to help the U.S. government to take someone who has done nothing criminal against China, but maybe who will get some international sympathy," said Shi.

    Snowden also expressed interest in seeking asylum in Iceland, but officials in the North Atlantic island nation said he would have to appear in person to seek asylum there.

    In a lengthy interview with the Guardian, Snowden said his dismay grew over time at the extent of the U.S. surveillance of phone and Internet records. He said he believed that Americans not suspected of any wrongdoing were being targeted.

    "Even if you're not doing anything wrong, you're being watched and recorded," said Snowden.

    You May Like

    Russian-Backed Offensive in Syria Pushes War to Tipping Point

    As threat to Aleppo and rebel forces grows, US plan to negotiate becomes less and less appealing for Syrian government, says one military analyst

    IS Runs Timber Smuggling Business in Afghanistan, Officials Say

    Government turning blind eye to smuggling, according to tribal leaders; Afghanistan's forest cover dropped by 50 percent in three decades, experts say

    Video White House Seeks $1.8 Billion to Combat Zika

    Obama administration says funding would 'support essential strategies to combat the virus' such as rapidly expanding mosquito control programs, accelerating vaccine research

    This forum has been closed.
    Comment Sorting
    Comments
         
    by: Sykes
    June 11, 2013 3:12 PM
    As a US citizen this is the ultimate betrayal in every sense.
    Entrusted with such responsibility, raises a question mark regarding background lifestyle checks. Just hope he is held
    accountable and extradited.

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    'No Means No' Program Targets Sexual Violence in Kenyai
    X
    February 08, 2016 4:30 PM
    The organizers of an initiative to reduce and stop rape in the informal settlements around Kenya's capital say their program is having marked success. Girls are taking self-defense classes while the boys are learning how to protect the girls and respect them. Lenny Ruvaga reports from Nairobi.
    Video

    Video 'No Means No' Program Targets Sexual Violence in Kenya

    The organizers of an initiative to reduce and stop rape in the informal settlements around Kenya's capital say their program is having marked success. Girls are taking self-defense classes while the boys are learning how to protect the girls and respect them. Lenny Ruvaga reports from Nairobi.
    Video

    Video New Hampshire Voters Are Independent, Mindful of History

    Once every four years, the northeastern state of New Hampshire becomes the center of the U.S. political universe with its first-in-the-nation presidential primary. What's unusual about New Hampshire is how seriously the voters take their role and the responsibility of being among the first to weigh in on the candidates.
    Video

    Video Chocolate Lovers Get a Sweet History Lesson

    Observed in many countries around the world, Valentine’s Day is sometimes celebrated with chocolate festivals. But at a festival near Washington, the visitors experience a bit more than a sugar rush. They go on a sweet journey through history. VOA’s June Soh takes us to the festival.
    Video

    Video 'Smart' Bandages Could Heal Wounds More Quickly

    Simple bandages are usually seen as the first line of attack in healing small to moderate wounds and burns. But scientists say new synthetic materials with embedded microsensors could turn bandages into a much more valuable tool for emergency physicians. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Bhutanese Refugees in New Hampshire Closely Watching Primary Election

    They fled their country and lived in refugee camps in neighboring Nepal for decades before being resettled in the northeastern U.S. state of New Hampshire -- now the focus of the U.S. presidential contest. VOA correspondent Aru Pande spoke with members of the Bhutanese community, including new American citizens, about the campaign and the strong anti-immigrant rhetoric of some of the candidates.
    Video

    Video Researchers Use 3-D Printer to Produce Transplantable Body Parts

    Human organ transplants have become fairly common around the world in the past few decades. Researchers at various universities are coordinating their efforts to find solutions -- including teams at the University of Pennsylvania and Rice University in Houston that are experimenting with a 3-D printer -- to make blood vessels and other structures for implant. As VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Houston, they are also using these artificial body parts to seek ways of defeating cancerous tumors.
    Video

    Video Helping the Blind 'See' Great Art

    There are 285 million blind and visually impaired people in the world who are unable to enjoy visual art at a museum. One New York photographer is trying to fix this situation by making tangible copies of the world’s masterpieces. VOA correspondent Victoria Kupchinetsky was there as visually impaired people got a feel for great art. Joy Wagner narrates her report.
    Video

    Video Sanders, Clinton Battle for Young Democratic Vote

    Despite a narrow loss to former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in last week's Iowa Democratic caucuses, Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders secured more than 80 percent of the vote among those between the ages of 18 and 29. VOA correspondent Aru Pande talks to Democrats in New Hampshire about who they are leaning towards and why in this week's primary.
    Video

    Video German Artists to Memorialize Refugees With Life Jacket Exhibit

    Sold in every kind of shop in some Turkish port towns, life jackets have become a symbol of the refugee crisis that brought a million people to Europe in 2015.  On the shores of Lesbos, Greece, German artists collect discarded life jackets as they prepare an art installation they plan to display in Germany.  For VOA, Hamada Elrasam has this report from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video E-readers Help Ease Africa's Book Shortage

    Millions of people in Africa can't read, and there's a chronic shortage of books. A non-profit organization called Worldreader is trying to help change all that one e-reader at a time. VOA’s Deborah Block tells us about a girls' school in Nairobi, Kenya where Worldreader is making a difference.
    Video

    Video Genius Lets World Share Its Knowledge

    Inspired by crowdsourcing companies like Wikipedia, Genius allows anyone to edit anything on the web, using its web annotation tool
    Video

    Video In Philippines, Mixed Feelings About Greater US Military Presence

    In the Philippines, some who will be directly affected by a recent Supreme Court decision clearing the way for more United States troop visits are having mixed reactions.  The increased rotations come at a time when the Philippines is trying to build up its military in the face of growing maritime assertiveness from China.  From Bahile, Palawan on the coast of the South China Sea, Simone Orendain has this story.
    Video

    Video Microcephaly's Connection to Zika: Guilty Until Proven Innocent

    The Zika virus rarely causes problems for the people who get it, but it seems to be having a devastating impact on babies whose mothers are infected with Zika. VOA's Carol Pearson has more.
    Video

    Video Stunning Artworks Attract Record Crowds, Thanks to Social Media

    A new exhibit at the oldest art museum in America is shattering attendance records. Thousands of visitors are lining up to see nine giant works of art that have gotten a much-deserved shot of viral marketing. The 150-year-old Smithsonian American Art Museum has never had a response quite like this. VOA's Julie Taboh reports.