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

Video Experts Warn World Losing Ebola Fight

Doctors Without Borders says world is losing battle against Ebola, unless wealthy nations dispatch specialized biological disaster response teams More

Video Experts: Rise of Islamic State Significant Development in Jihadism

Many analysts contend the group - which grew out of al-Qaida in Iraq - has been rebuilding for years More

US-Based Hong Kongers Pledge Support for Pro-Democracy Activists

Democracy advocates call on Chinese living abroad to join them in opposing new election rules for their home territory 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.
Larger Than Life Chinese Lanterns Make Southern California Appearancei
X
Elizabeth Lee
September 02, 2014 8:57 PM
Chinese lanterns with a long history are lighting up in 21st century style at the Los Angeles County Fair in southern California. Visitors can see traditional lanterns that hang, but also lanterns in the shape of animals, iconic landmarks and many other objects, all created by artisans from a place in China known for its lanterns. Elizabeth Lee has the details from the fair in the city of Pomona.
Video

Video Larger Than Life Chinese Lanterns Make Southern California Appearance

Chinese lanterns with a long history are lighting up in 21st century style at the Los Angeles County Fair in southern California. Visitors can see traditional lanterns that hang, but also lanterns in the shape of animals, iconic landmarks and many other objects, all created by artisans from a place in China known for its lanterns. Elizabeth Lee has the details from the fair in the city of Pomona.
Video

Video Experts See Rise of ISIS as Significant Development

The Islamic State’s rise seems sudden. It caught the U.S. by surprise this summer when it captured large portions of northern Iraq and spread its wings in neighboring Syria. But many analysts contend that the group - which grew out of al-Qaida in Iraq - has been rebuilding for years. VOA's Jela de Franceschi takes a closer look at the rise of ISIS and its implications for the Middle East and beyond.
Video

Video Israel Concerned Over Syrian Rebels in Golan

Israeli officials are following with concern the recent fighting between Syrian rebels and government forces near the contested Golan Heights. Forty-four U.N. peacekeepers from Fiji have been seized by Syrian Islamist rebels and the clashes occasionally have spilled into Israel. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from Jerusalem.
Video

Video Ukraine Schools Resume Classes, Donate to Government Forces

A new school year has started in Ukraine but thousands of children in the war-torn east are unable to attend because of ongoing clashes with pro-Russia rebels. In Ukraine's capital, patriotic education has become the norm along with donations to support injured security forces fighting to take back rebel-held areas. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Kyiv.
Video

Video US Detainees Want Negotiators for Freedom in North Korea

The three U.S. detainees held in North Korea were permitted to speak with foreign media Monday. The government of Kim Jong Un restricted the topics of the questions, and the interviews in Pyongyang were limited to five minutes. Each of the men asked Washington to send a representative to Pyongyang to secure his release. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti has our story.
Video

Video Turkmen From Amerli Describe Survival of IS Siege

Over the past few weeks, hundreds of Shi'ite Turkmen have fled the town of Amerli seeking refuge in the northern city of Kirkuk. Despite recent military gains after U.S. airstrikes that were coordinated with Iraqi and Kurdish forces, the situation remains dire for Amerli’s residents. Sebastian Meyer went to Kirkuk for VOA to speak to those who managed to escape.
Video

Video West Africa Ebola Vaccine Trials Possible by Early 2015

A U.S. health agency is speeding up clinical trials of a possible vaccine against the deadly Ebola virus that so far has killed more than 1,500 people in West Africa. If successful, the next step would be a larger trial in countries where the outbreak is occurring. VOA's Carol Pearson has more.
Video

Video Survivors Commemorate 70th Anniversary of Nazi Liquidation of Jewish Ghetto

When the German Nazi army occupied the Polish city of Lodz in 1939, it marked the beginning of a long nightmare for the Jewish community that once made up one third of the population. Roughly 200,000 people were forced into the Lodz Ghetto. Less than 7,000 survived. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, some survivors gathered at the Union League Club in Chicago on the 70th anniversary of the liquidation of the Lodz Ghetto to remember those who suffered at the hands of the Nazi regime.

AppleAndroid