On a technicality, Hong Kong and China extradite themselves from Snowden(Read article summary)
The case of NSA leaker Edward Snowden was one that neither Hong Kong nor Beijing wanted to get involved in. With a stalling maneuver, Hong Kong let Mr. Snowden flee US extradition.
By allowing Edward Snowden to leave Hong Kong Sunday, hours after the United States sought to extradite him, the government there has rid itself ‚Äď and Beijing ‚Äď of an awkward diplomatic and legal problem.
Indeed there are strong suspicions in the former British colony that the Hong Kong authorities deliberately gave the fugitive NSA whistleblower time to get out.
The US extradition request, filed on Saturday, ‚Äúdid not fully comply with the legal requirements under Hong Kong law,‚ÄĚ the Hong Kong government said on Sunday, so it had asked Washington for ‚Äúadditional information.‚ÄĚ
In the meantime, there was ‚Äúno legal basis to restrict Mr. Snowden from leaving Hong Kong,‚ÄĚ the statement added. On Sunday morning, Snowden boarded a plane bound for Moscow, accompanied by legal advisors from the anti-secrecy group Wikileaks according to a post on the group‚Äôs Twitter account.
His final destination was unclear.
‚ÄúI suspect it was ‚Äėwink, wink, nudge, nudge, you‚Äôve got 48 hours to get out of Dodge City‚Äô,‚ÄĚ says Kevin Egan, a Hong Kong lawyer with experience of extradition cases. ‚ÄúWhen the government got the clarification it had sought, it might not have been able to let him go.‚ÄĚ
‚ÄúSnowden managed to get away because Hong Kong decided to stall,‚ÄĚ adds Claudia Mo, a lawmaker with the pro-democracy Civic Party. ‚ÄúThe matter was too tricky for Sino-American relations ‚Ä¶ so Beijing gave instructions he should be given time to leave.‚ÄĚ
Snowden had said he planned to challenge any US extradition attempt in Hong Kong courts, declaring his faith in the city‚Äôs rule of law. But he faced the possibility of having to stay in jail throughout the court proceedings, which could have taken several years according to local lawyers.
His case was a thorny one for Beijing, anxious to improve relations with the United States and embarrassed by the US fugitive‚Äôs presence in Hong Kong, but unable to intervene openly in Hong Kong‚Äôs judicial process under the ‚Äúone country, two systems‚ÄĚ principle that safeguards Hong Kong‚Äôs courts.
Hong Kong‚Äôs top official, Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying had promised that the case would be handled ‚Äúin accordance with the laws and established procedures of Hong Kong.‚ÄĚ But the politically sensitive case ‚Äúwould have been quite a test for our rule of law,‚ÄĚ says Ms. Mo. ‚ÄúIt would have been a very thorny issue and it is all for the best for both Hong Kong and Beijing that he has gone.‚ÄĚ
‚ÄúThis was not a case that Hong Kong or Beijing ever wanted to get involved in,‚ÄĚ agrees Mr. Egan. ‚ÄúThe best thing for both of them was for Snowden to leave.‚ÄĚ¬†