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

    Syrian Torture Victim Recounts Horrors

    'You make them think you have surrendered' says Jalal Nofal, a doctor who was jailed and survived repeated interrogations in Syria

    Mandela’s Millions Paid to Heirs, But Who Gets His Country Home?

    Saga around $3 million estate of country's first democratic president is far from over as Winnie Mandela’s fight for home overshadows payouts

    Guess Which Beach is 'Best in the US'?

    Hawaii’s Hanauma Bay tops an annual "top 10" list compiled by a coastal scientist, also known as Doctor Beach

    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.
    Chinese-Americans Heart Trump, Bucking National Trendi
    X
    May 27, 2016 5:57 AM
    A new study conducted by three Asian-American organizations shows there are three times as many Democrats as there are Republicans among Asian-American voters, and they favor Hillary Clinton over Donald Trump. But one group, called Chinese-Americans For Trump, is going against the tide and strongly supports the business tycoon. VOA’s Elizabeth Lee caught up with them at a Trump rally and reports from Anaheim, California.
    Video

    Video Chinese-Americans Heart Trump, Bucking National Trend

    A new study conducted by three Asian-American organizations shows there are three times as many Democrats as there are Republicans among Asian-American voters, and they favor Hillary Clinton over Donald Trump. But one group, called Chinese-Americans For Trump, is going against the tide and strongly supports the business tycoon. VOA’s Elizabeth Lee caught up with them at a Trump rally and reports from Anaheim, California.
    Video

    Video Reactions to Trump's Success Polarized Abroad

    What seemed impossible less than a year ago is now almost a certainty. New York real estate mogul Donald Trump has won the number of delegates needed to secure the Republican presidential nomination. The prospect has sparked as much controversy abroad as it has in the United States. Zlatica Hoke has more.
    Video

    Video Drawings by Children in Hiroshima Show Hope and Peace

    On Friday, President Barack Obama will visit Hiroshima, Japan, the first American president to do so while in office. In August 1945, the United States dropped an atomic bomb on the city to force Japan's surrender in World War II. Although their city lay in ruins, some Hiroshima schoolchildren drew pictures of hope and peace. The former students and their drawings are now part of a documentary called “Pictures from a Hiroshima Schoolyard.” VOA's Deborah Block has the story.
    Video

    Video Vietnamese Rapper Performs for Obama

    A prominent young Vietnamese artist told President Obama said she faced roadblocks as a woman rapper, and asked the president about government support for the arts. He asked her to rap, and he even offered to provide a base beat for her. Watch what happened.
    Video

    Video Roots Run Deep for Tunisia's Dwindling Jewish Community

    This week, hundreds of Jewish pilgrims are defying terrorist threats to celebrate an ancient religious festival on the Tunisian island of Djerba. The festivities cast a spotlight on North Africa's once-vibrant Jewish population that has all but died out in recent decades. Despite rising threats of militant Islam and the country's battered economy, one of the Arab world's last Jewish communities is staying put and nurturing a new generation. VOA’s Lisa Bryant reports.
    Video

    Video Meet Your New Co-Worker: The Robot

    Increasing numbers of robots are joining the workforce, as companies scale back and more processes become automated. The latest robots are flexible and collaborative, built to work alongside humans as opposed to replacing them. VOA’s Tina Trinh looks at the next generation of automated employees helping out their human colleagues.
    Video

    Video Wheelchair Technology in Tune With Times

    Technologies for the disabled, including wheelchair technology, are advancing just as quickly as everything else in the digital age. Two new advances in wheelchairs offer improved control and a more comfortable fit. VOA's George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Baby Boxes Offer Safe Haven for Unwanted Children

    No one knows exactly how many babies are abandoned worldwide each year. The statistic is a difficult one to determine because it is illegal in most places. Therefore unwanted babies are often hidden and left to die. But as Erika Celeste reports from Woodburn, Indiana, a new program hopes to make surrendering infants safer for everyone.
    Video

    Video California Celebration Showcases Local Wines, Balloons

    Communities in the U.S. often hold festivals to show what makes them special. In California, for example, farmers near Fresno celebrate their figs and those around Gilmore showcase their garlic. Mike O'Sullivan reports that the wine-producing region of Temecula offers local vintages in an annual festival where rides on hot-air balloons add to the excitement.
    Video

    Video US Elementary School Offers Living Science Lessons

    Zero is not a good score on a test at school. But Discovery Elementary is proud of its “net zero” rating. Net zero describes a building in which the amount of energy provided by on-site renewable sources equals the amount of energy the building uses. As Faiza Elmasry tells us, the innovative features in the building turn the school into a teaching tool, where kids can't help but learn about science and sustainability. Faith Lapidus narrates.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora