News / Asia

Snowden’s Flight Raises Legal Questions for Hong Kong

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.
Ivan Broadhead
The Hong Kong government says former security contractor Edward Snowden departed the semi-autonomous Chinese city just hours after the U.S. government requested his extradition.  Questions are raised about Snowden’s flight.

After a day of media speculation and government silence, Hong Kong leader Leung Chun-ying confirmed Edward Snowden left the southern Chinese city of his own accord early Sunday for a third-party country.

Snowden, who is under FBI investigation for revealing secret U.S. National Security Agency surveillance operations, had been in hiding in Hong Kong since fleeing Hawaii May 20.

Edward Snowden during an interview with The Guardian newspaper at an undisclosed location in Hong Kong, June 6, 2013.Edward Snowden during an interview with The Guardian newspaper at an undisclosed location in Hong Kong, June 6, 2013.
x
Edward Snowden during an interview with The Guardian newspaper at an undisclosed location in Hong Kong, June 6, 2013.
Edward Snowden during an interview with The Guardian newspaper at an undisclosed location in Hong Kong, June 6, 2013.
Despite the extradition agreement between Hong Kong and Washington, Leung said Snowden departed “through a lawful and normal channel," and the United States had been informed. 

Speaking to local public broadcaster RTHK, Hong Kong University Law Professor Eric Cheung questioned the legality of Snowden’s free passage.

“The Hong Kong government needs to explain to the U.S. why it allowed Snowden to leave, not withstanding their surrender request," he said. "Hong Kong needs to give a satisfactory explanation, otherwise the [United] States might accuse Hong Kong of being in breach of its treaty obligations.”

China political expert Willy Lam suggests Snowden's presence has been a headache for the local government, which answers to Beijing but has close ties to Washington. 

“I would not be surprised if Snowden was encouraged to leave so Hong Kong would be spared a potentially acrimonious legal battle with the United States, if, as is highly possible, it was the intention of the Chinese government not to surrender him,” said Lam.

Snowden boarded an Aeroflot flight to Moscow.  Reports suggest he will subsequently travel to Venezuela by way of Cuba.

Explaining why Hong Kong authorities had not prevented the fugitive’s departure, Leung said the U.S. government provided insufficient information to process an arrest warrant.

Hong Kong Democratic Party chairman Emily Lau is skeptical.  She suspects Leung was acting at Beijing’s behest, and is concerned about the ramifications for Hong Kong citizens. 

“The fact CY Leung dare not say anything for so long shows that he was waiting for orders from Beijing," she said.  "The Americans may want to punish us [for instance, by] by not giving us visa-free treatment that is something Hong Kong has been fighting for.”

U.S. officials say National Security Agency computer and telephone monitoring operations have foiled at least 50 terrorist plots.

Leung concluded his statement by demanding Washington clarify Snowden’s allegation that Hong Kong computer systems have been hacked by U.S. agencies.

You May Like

Ebola Death Toll Nears 5,000 as Virus Advances

West Africa bears heaviest burden; Mali toddler’s death raises new fears More

Jordan’s Battle With Islamic State Militants Carries Domestic Risks

Despite Western concerns that IS militants are preparing a Jordanian offensive, analysts call the kingdom's solid intel a strong deterrent More

Asian-Americans Assume Office in Record Numbers

Steadily deepening engagement in local politics pays off for politicians like Chinese-American Judy Chu More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: hkdangerduo from: Hong Kong
June 24, 2013 6:30 AM
Hong Kong's Chief Executive Leung never comments on anything. We had him on the set of Luggage Talk recently for the finale of our third season, and he was just as tight lipped as with any other time he's asked questions.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Talks to Resume on Winter Gas for Ukrainei
X
Al Pessin
October 25, 2014 4:21 PM
Ukrainian and Russian officials will meet again next week in an effort to settle their dispute over natural gas supplies that threatens to leave Ukraine short of heating fuel for the coming winter. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London the dispute is complex, and has both economic and geopolitical dimensions.
Video

Video Talks to Resume on Winter Gas for Ukraine

Ukrainian and Russian officials will meet again next week in an effort to settle their dispute over natural gas supplies that threatens to leave Ukraine short of heating fuel for the coming winter. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London the dispute is complex, and has both economic and geopolitical dimensions.
Video

Video Smugglers Offer Cheap Passage From Turkey to Syria

Smugglers in Turkey offer a relatively cheap passage across the border into Syria. Ankara has stepped up efforts to stem the flow of foreign fighters who want to join Islamic State militants fighting for control of the Syrian border city of Kobani. But porous borders and border guards who can be bribed make illegal border crossings quite easy. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Comanche Chief Quanah Parker’s Century-Old House Falling Apart

One of the most fascinating people in U.S. history was Quanah Parker, the last chief of the American Indian tribe, the Comanche. He was the son of a Comanche warrior and a white woman who had been captured by the Indians. Parker was a fierce warrior until 1875 when he led his people to Fort Sill, Oklahoma, and took on a new, peaceful life. As VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Cache, Oklahoma, Quanah’s image remains strong among his people, but part of his heritage is in danger of disappearing.
Video

Video China Political Meeting Seeks to Improve Rule of Law

China’s communist leaders will host a top level political meeting this week, called the Fourth Plenum, and for the first time in the party’s history, rule of law will be a key item on the agenda. Analysts and Chinese media reports say the meetings could see the approval of long-awaited measures aimed at giving courts more independence and include steps to enhance an already aggressive and high-reaching anti-corruption drive. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
Video

Video After Decades of Pressure, Luxembourg Drops Bank Secrecy Rules

European Union finance ministers have reached a breakthrough agreement that will make it more difficult for tax cheats to hide their money. The new legislation, which had been blocked for years by countries with a reputation as tax havens, was approved last week after Luxembourg and Austria agreed to lift their vetoes. But as Mil Arcega reports, it doesn’t mean tax cheats have run out of places to keep their money hidden.
Video

Video Kobani Refugees Welcome, Turkey Criticizes, US Airdrop

Residents of Kobani in northern Syria have welcomed the airdrop of weapons, ammunition and medicine to Kurdish militia who are resisting the seizure of their city by Islamic State militants. The Turkish government, however, has criticized the operation. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from southeastern Turkey, across the border from Kobani.
Video

Video US ‘Death Cafes’ Put Focus on the Finale

In contemporary America, death usually is a topic to be avoided. But the growing “death café” movement encourages people to discuss their fears and desires about their final moments. VOA’s Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Ebola Orphanage Opens in Sierra Leone

Sierra Leone's first Ebola orphanage has opened in the Kailahun district. Hundreds of children orphaned since the beginning of the Ebola outbreak face stigma and rejection with nobody to care for them. Adam Bailes reports for VOA about a new interim care center that's aimed at helping the growing number of children affected by Ebola.

All About America

AppleAndroid