News / Asia

US Seeks Snowden's Extradition, Urges Hong Kong to Act Quickly

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.
x
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.
Reuters

The United States pressured Hong Kong on Saturday to act quickly on its request to extradite Edward Snowden, a former U.S. National Security Agency contractor charged with espionage for exposing secret U.S. surveillance activities.

"If Hong Kong doesn't act soon, it will complicate our bilateral relations and raise questions about Hong Kong's commitment to the rule of law,'' a senior Obama administration official told Reuters, speaking on condition of anonymity.

Sources say Snowden, who has been hiding in Hong Kong, has sought legal representation from human rights lawyers as he prepares to fight attempts to force him back to the United States to face trial.

U.S. National Security Adviser Tom Donilon told CBS News the United States had a "good case'' against Snowden and expected Hong Kong to comply with its 1998 extradition treaty with the United States.

"We have gone to the Hong Kong authorities seeking extradition of Snowden back to the United States,'' Donilon said.

He added that U.S. law enforcement officials were in a "conversation'' with Hong Kong authorities about the issue.

"Hong Kong has been a historically good partner of the United States in law enforcement matters and we expect them to comply with the treaty in this case,'' Donilon said.

A senior U.S. law enforcement source said extradition "can, of course, be a lengthy legal process'' but expressed optimism that Snowden would be extradited.

 

A poster supporting Edward Snowden, a former contractor at the National Security Agency who leaked revelations of U.S. electronic surveillance, is displayed at Hong Kong's financial Central district June 17, 2013.A poster supporting Edward Snowden, a former contractor at the National Security Agency who leaked revelations of U.S. electronic surveillance, is displayed at Hong Kong's financial Central district June 17, 2013.
x
A poster supporting Edward Snowden, a former contractor at the National Security Agency who leaked revelations of U.S. electronic surveillance, is displayed at Hong Kong's financial Central district June 17, 2013.
A poster supporting Edward Snowden, a former contractor at the National Security Agency who leaked revelations of U.S. electronic surveillance, is displayed at Hong Kong's financial Central district June 17, 2013.

The South China Morning Post said on Saturday that Snowden was not detained or in police protection - as reported elsewhere - and instead was in a "safe place'' somewhere in Hong Kong.

The paper also quoted Snowden offering new details about U.S. spy activities, including accusations of U.S. hacking of Chinese mobile phone companies.

"The NSA does all kinds of things like hack Chinese cellphone companies to steal all of your SMS (texting) data,'' Snowden was quoted by the Post as saying during a June 12 interview.

Documents previously leaked by Snowden revealed that the NSA has access to vast amounts of internet data such as emails, chat rooms and video from large companies such as Facebook and Google, under a government program known as Prism.

They also showed that the government had worked through the secret Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court to gather so-called metadata - such as the time, duration and telephone numbers called - on all calls carried by service providers such as Verizon.

On Friday, the Guardian newspaper, citing documents shared by Snowden, said Britain's spy agency GCHQ had tapped fiber-optic cables that carry international phone and internet traffic and is sharing vast quantities of personal information with the NSA.

Espionage charges

The United States charged Snowden with theft of government property, unauthorized communication of national defense information and willful communication of classified communications intelligence to an unauthorized person, according to the criminal complaint made public on Friday.

The latter two offenses fall under the U.S. Espionage Act and carry penalties of up to 10 years in prison.

Scores of Americans have been sent back home from Hong Kong to face trial under the extradition treaty. But the process can take years, lawyers say, and Snowden's case could be particularly complex.

America's use of the Espionage Act against Snowden has fueled debate among legal experts about whether that could complicate his extradition, since the treaty includes an exception for political offenses and Hong Kong courts may choose to shield him from prosecution.

Snowden says he leaked the details of the classified U.S. surveillance to expose abusive and illegal programs that trampled on citizens' privacy rights.

President Barack Obama and his intelligence chiefs have vigorously defended the programs, saying they are regulated by law and that Congress was notified. They say the programs have been used to thwart militant plots and do not target Americans' personal lives.

Stephen Vladeck, a professor at American University's Washington College of Law who studies national security issues, said there is no clear definition of what constitutes a political offense under the treaty.

"My intuition says it'll be easier for Snowden to argue espionage is a political offense than (the U.S. charge of) theft of government property,'' Vladeck said.

The South China Morning Post reported on Saturday that Snowden said he had documents showing NSA had hacked major Chinese telecoms companies to access text messages and targeted China's top Tsinghua University.

The NSA program also hacked the Hong Kong headquarters of Pacnet, which has an extensive fiber-optic network, the paper said.

You May Like

China Announces Corruption Probe into Senior Ex-Leader

Former security chief and member of Politburo Standing Committee, Zhou Yongkang, being probed for suspected 'serious disciplinary violation' More

India, US Look to Reset Ties During Kerry Visit

This week's talks will be first high level interaction between two countries since Prime Minister Narendra Modi took charge More

Video Young African Leadership Program Renamed to Honor Mandela

YALI program, launched by President Obama in 2010, aims to build skills in business, entrepreneurship, public management and civic leadership More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Vietnamese Staging Chinese Product Boycott After Oil Rig Spati
X
Reasey Poch
July 28, 2014 7:18 PM
China recently pulled an oil rig from an area of the disputed South China Sea that Vietnam also claims. Despite the action, the incident has had a lingering effect on consumers in Vietnam. VOA's Reasey Poch reports from Hanoi on an effort to boycott Chinese products.
Video

Video Vietnamese Staging Chinese Product Boycott After Oil Rig Spat

China recently pulled an oil rig from an area of the disputed South China Sea that Vietnam also claims. Despite the action, the incident has had a lingering effect on consumers in Vietnam. VOA's Reasey Poch reports from Hanoi on an effort to boycott Chinese products.
Video

Video ESA Spacecraft to Land on a Comet

After a long flight through deep space, a European Space Agency probe is finally approaching its target -- a comet millions of kilometers away from earth. Scientists say the mission may lead to some startling discoveries about the origins of the water on earth. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Young Africans Arrive in US for Leadership Program

President Barack Obama's Young African Leadership Initiative has brought hundreds of young Africans to the United States for a six-week program aimed at building their knowledge and skills in fields such as public administration and business. Out of the 50,000 young Africans who applied for the program, just one percent was accepted. VOA's Laurel Bowman caught up with some of those who made the cut and has this report.
Video

Video In Honduras, Amnesty Rumors Fuel US Migration Surges

False rumors in Central America are fueling the current surge of undocumented young people being apprehended at the U.S. border. The inaccurate claims suggest the U.S. will give amnesty to young migrants from the region. As VOA's Brian Padden reports from Honduras, these rumors trace back to President Obama's 2012 executive order to halt deportations for some young undocumented immigrants already living in the United States.
Video

Video Students in Business for Themselves

They're only high school students, but they are making accessories for shoes, fabricating backpacks and doing product photography - all through their own businesses. It's the result of a partnership between a non-profit organization that teaches entrepreneurship and their schools. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan and Deyane Moses met the budding entrepreneurs near Los Angeles.
Video

Video Astronauts Train in Underwater Lab

In the world’s only underwater laboratory, four U.S. astronauts train for a planned visit to an asteroid. The lab - called Aquarius- is located five kilometers off Key Largo, in southern Florida. Living in close quarters and making excursions only into the surrounding ocean, they try to simulate the daily routine of a crew that will someday travel to collect samples of a rock orbiting far away from earth. VOA’s George Putic has more.

AppleAndroid