US whistleblower Snowden in Russia; Hong Kong defends its stand

Edward Snowden

Edward Snowden

Edward Snowden, the former U.S. National Security Agency contractor who leaked information about the country's surveillance programmes, left Hong Kong on Sunday to a third country.

Reuters and other media agencies have reported that Edward Snowden, the fugitive American whistleblower, is in Russia.

Russian President Vladimir Putin said on Tuesday "Edward Snowden was still in the transit area of Moscow's Sheremetyevo airport, was free to leave and should do so as soon as possible", according to Reuters.

Earlier on Monday, Snowden was reportedly on route to Ecuador from Moscow via Havana. However, he wasn't in the plane that he was thought to be in, according to an Associated Press reporter.

Snowden, the former U.S. National Security Agency contractor who leaked information about the country's surveillance programmes, left Hong Kong on Sunday to a third country.

Meanwhile, Hong Kong's Secretary for Justice, Rimsky Yuen, SC, who spoke to the media on the Snowden case 25 June, defended the position of his government.

A reporter asked the Secretary if the US Government's claim, that it was a deliberate choice by the Hong Kong Government to let Snowden leave Hong Kong because the Government was not honouring the extradition request and the arrest warrant, was correct.

"The answer to your question is "no"," said the Secretary for Justice. "We have been acting fully in accordance with the law in Hong Kong, particularly the Fugitive Offenders Ordinance (Chapter 503) as well as the agreement made between Hong Kong and the United States in 1996.

"We have been keeping in touch with the US authorities. We notified them through emails initially that we would be studying the case and that we would need further information, and I reiterated the same stance with the US Department of Justice on the 20th of June.

"Then on the 21st of June, we actually sent them a list of questions which I have outlined earlier, which identified the areas of substantive issues, both in relation to the charges, in relation to the question of whether they can actually satisfy the due criminality requirement under Hong Kong law, as well as the question of evidential issues, and other questions I outlined earlier, i.e. details which helped to identify exactly which is the person, such as the name and the passport number.

"So I think I can tell you in no uncertain terms that we have not been deliberately delaying the progress. All along we acted fully in accordance with the law and any suggestion that we have been deliberately letting Mr Snowden go away or to do any other things to obstruct the normal operation is totally untrue."

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Tags securityU.S. National Security Agencygovernmentprivacy

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