by Staff Writers
Washington (AFP) June 23, 2013
Hong Kong failure to arrest Snowden ‘troubling': US
Washington (AFP) June 23, 2013 – The United States is disappointed by Hong Kong’s “troubling” failure to arrest fugitive intelligence leaker Edward Snowden before he fled the territory, an official said Sunday.A Department of Justice spokesperson insisted US officials had fulfilled all the requirements of Washington’s extradition treaty with the autonomous Chinese region and were “disappointed” by the decision to let him go.
Snowden, a 30-year-old former intelligence contractor, is wanted by the United States on espionage charges, after he quit his job with the National Security Agency and fled to Hong Kong with a cache of secret documents.
On Sunday, Snowden left Hong Kong and fled for Moscow, despite Washington having requested his arrest and extradition. Hong Kong officials said the documentation supporting the extradition request had been incomplete.
But the US Department of Justice denied there was anything missing.
“The US is disappointed and disagrees with the determination by Hong Kong authorities not to honor the US request for the arrest of the fugitive,” the spokesperson said in a statement.
“The request for the fugitive’s arrest for purposes of his extradition complied with all of the requirements of the US-Hong Kong Surrender Agreement,” the statement said.
“At no point, in all of our discussions through Friday, did the authorities in Hong Kong raise any issues regarding the sufficiency of the US’s provisional arrest request,” it said.
“In light of this, we find their decision to be particularly troubling.”
The statement said senior US officials had been in touch with their Hong Kong counterparts since June 10, when they learned Snowden was in Hong Kong and leaking details of secret surveillance programs to the media.
On Wednesday, US Attorney General Eric Holder spoke to Hong Kong Secretary for Justice Rimsky Yuen and urged Hong Kong to honor the request for Snowden’s arrest.
The Hong Kong government had said that, as it “has yet to have sufficient information to process the request for provisional warrant of arrest, there is no legal basis to restrict Mr Snowden from leaving Hong Kong.”
China and the United States traded hacking charges on Sunday as Washington accused Beijing of stealing US intellectual property and the Chinese authorities expressed concern over US cyberattacks.
The back-and-forth between the United States and China over cyber spying followed new claims by former National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden that the US spy agency was snooping on Chinese targets.
Snowden told Hong Kong’s Sunday Morning Post that US spies had hacked the prestigious Tsinghua University in Beijing — home to one of six “network backbones” that route all of mainland China’s Internet traffic — and the Hong Kong headquarters of Pacnet, which operates one of the Asia-Pacific region’s largest fiber-optic networks.
Snowden, who arrived in Moscow on Sunday, reportedly on his way to Venezuela, also said the US spy agency was hacking Chinese mobile phone companies to gather data from millions of text messages.
NSA chief Keith Alexander, asked by ABC television if his agency carries out such activities as hacking Chinese cellphones to steal SMS messages, said “we have interest in those who collect on us as an intelligence agency.
“But to say that we’re willfully just collecting all sorts of data would give you the impression that we’re just trying to canvass the whole world,” he said.