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

Is Air Travel Safe?

Aviation expert says despite tragic losses of Malaysian Airlines flights 370 and 17, industry experienced lowest fatality rate in recorded history last year More

Multimedia 100 Days Later, Nigerian Girls Still Held

Activists holding rallies in Nigeria and several other countries to mark 100th day of captivity for more than 200 schoolgirls being held by Boko Haram More

Chocolate Too Bitter? Swap Sugar for Mushrooms

US food technology company develops fermentation process using mushrooms to reduce bitterness in cocoa beans, believes it will cut sugar content in candy 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.
US Carriers Suspend Travel to Israeli
X
Carolyn Presutti
July 23, 2014 1:21 AM
The United States is prohibiting American carriers from flying to Israel's airport in Tel Aviv for 24 hours, because of rising violence between Israel and Hamas militants. The action was announced on Tuesday, after a rocket fired by Hamas militants in the Gaza Strip landed near the airport. As VOA's Carolyn Presutti tells us, international officials soon may have to determine which combat zones are too dangerous for commercial flights.
Video

Video US Carriers Suspend Travel to Israel

The United States is prohibiting American carriers from flying to Israel's airport in Tel Aviv for 24 hours, because of rising violence between Israel and Hamas militants. The action was announced on Tuesday, after a rocket fired by Hamas militants in the Gaza Strip landed near the airport. As VOA's Carolyn Presutti tells us, international officials soon may have to determine which combat zones are too dangerous for commercial flights.
Video

Video NASA Focuses on Earth-Like Planets

For decades, looking for life elsewhere in the universe meant listening for signals that could be from distant civilizations. But recent breakthroughs in space technology refocused some of that effort toward finding planets that may harbor life, even in its primitive form. VOA’s George Putic reports on a recent panel discussion at NASA’s headquarters, in Washington.
Video

Video IAEA: Iran Turns its Enriched Uranium Into Less Harmful Form

Iran has converted its stockpiles of enriched uranium into a less dangerous form that is more difficult to use for nuclear weapons, according to the United Nations’ Atomic Energy Agency. The move complies with an interim deal reached with Western powers on Iran's nuclear program last year, in exchange for easing of sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video Relic of Saint Draws Catholics Worried About Immigration Issue

A Roman Catholic saint who is a figure of devotion for those crossing the border into the United States is attracting believers concerned about the plight of undocumented immigrants. Mike O'Sullivan reports from Los Angeles, where a relic of Saint Toribio has drawn thousands to local churches.
Video

Video US Awards Medal of Honor for Heroics in Bloodiest of Afghan Battles

U.S. combat troops are withdrawing from Afghanistan, on pace to leave the country by the end of this year. But on Monday, U.S. President Barack Obama took time to honor a soldier whose actions while under fire in Afghanistan earned him the Medal of Honor. VOA's Jeff Seldin has more from the Pentagon.
Video

Video Ukraine Rebels Surrender MH17 Black Boxes

After days of negotiations, a senior separatist leader handed over two black boxes from an airliner downed over eastern Ukraine to Malaysian experts early Tuesday. While on Monday, the U.N. Security Council unanimously demanded that armed groups controlling the crash site allow safe and unrestricted access to the wreckage.
Video

Video In Cambodia, HIV Diagnosis Brings Deadly Shame

Although HIV/AIDS is now a treatable condition, a positive diagnosis is still a life altering experience. In Cambodia, people living with HIV are often disowned by friends, family and the community. This humiliation can be unbearable. We bring you one Cambodian woman’s struggle to overcome a life tragedy and her own HIV positive diagnosis.
Video

Video Nature of Space Exploration Enters New Age

Forty-five years ago this month, the first humans walked on the moon. It was during an era of the space race between the United States and the Soviet Union. World politics have changed since then and -- as Elizabeth Lee reports -- so has the nature of space exploration.

AppleAndroid