With Apparent Help From WikiLeaks, Snowden Leaves Hong Kong

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NSA whistle-blower Edward Snowden appears to have landed in Moscow after boarding a flight from Hong Kong early Sunday morning. A statement released Sunday by the Hong Kong government said that an extradition request received from the U.S. “did not fully comply” with local legal requirements — something that the U.S. denies. The Hong Kong authorities added that Snowden departed on his own accord through a “lawful and normal channel” and that clarification had been requested regarding the alleged hacking of local computer systems by U.S. government agencies. It is believed that Snowden will only stay in Russia briefly before flying to an as-yet-unknown third country. Whistle-blowing website WikiLeaks said in a statement that Snowden was “bound for a democratic nation via a safe route for the purposes of asylum” and that he was “being escorted by diplomats and legal advisors from WikiLeaks.” It added that Snowden had requested that WikiLeaks “use its legal expertise and experience to secure his safety.”

(MORE: Hong Kong Authorities Silent as Snowden Charges Filed)

A former CIA employee and contractor for the National Security Agency, Snowden came to the world’s attention when he revealed to the Guardian and Washington Post large-scale phone and Internet surveillance by the U.S. government. Formal charges were issued against him on Friday, his 30th birthday, for engaging in unauthorized communication of national-defense information, willful communication of classified communications intelligence and theft of government property. All three crimes carry a maximum sentence of 10 years imprisonment.

Commentators were expecting a lengthy legal battle as Snowden had previously vowed to fight extradition proceedings from Hong Kong, a Special Administrative Region of China known for its independent judiciary and a much higher degree of freedom than Beijing permits elsewhere in the country. He arrived in the city on May 20 after leaving his home and girlfriend in Hawaii. Though Hong Kong and the U.S. maintain an extradition treaty, Snowden might have claimed asylum by demonstrating that any charges against him were politically motivated, or that he would face torture, or other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment if he were returned to the U.S. But his desire for the “the courts and people of Hong Kong to decide my fate,” as expressed during an interview with the South China Morning Post, may have waned during his time in the territory.

(MORE: Snowden in Hong Kong: The Legal Complications of ‘One Country, Two Systems’)

Snowden previously said that he might seek sanctuary in Iceland as the country has a reputation for free speech and Internet freedom (WikiLeaks is based there). However, Russia’s Itar-Tass news agency, citing an unidentified Aeroflot official, reported that Snowden would fly from Moscow to Havana on Monday before going on to Caracas. “I think Venezuela or any country without ties to the U.S. would be his best bet,” says Law Yuk-Kai, director of Hong Kong Human Rights Monitor. Venezuela has had fraught relations with the U.S., especially during the presidency of the late Hugo Chávez.

(MORE: Edward Snowden, NSA Whistle-Blower, Wins Unusual Sympathizers in Latin America)

Ronny Tong, a Hong Kong barrister and legislator, tells TIME that Snowden was right to flee as legal proceedings can often yield unexpected results. “It’s a result of a political compromise,” he says. “I was half expecting this as I think that Beijing would find it embarrassing especially if he was surrendered to the United States,” adding that Snowden’s continued presence in Hong Kong would also spotlight mainland China’s own dubious record on human rights and privacy.

Hong Kong officials appear to have played it by the book by stressing the rule of law the territory is known for. However, by sidestepping a political hot potato, the territory risks the ire of the U.S. “As far as the relationship with Hong Kong goes, this raises questions,” a U.S. Justice Department official warned on Sunday. The Hong Kong government’s statement makes it plain that the feeling is mutual, with the authorities vowing to follow up on U.S. hacking allegations to “protect the rights of the people of Hong Kong.” As a result of the Snowden affair, governments and individuals everywhere are starting to realize that privacy is something that can no longer be taken for granted.

MORE: From the Source’s Mouth: Still in Hiding, Snowden Does a Q&A Online

37 comments
tbarron17
tbarron17

I somehow have trouble supporting Snowden as he claims to be doing all of this for civil disobidience--however--the true civil leaders who challenged laws did so by recognizing and accepting their punishment willingly, NOT running away from it across international borders and creating a media craze. Does Snowden not consider the implications of his cowardice? In an attemp to "reveal" the actions of the NSA he has overshadowed them by seeking freedom, when others before him (who were true civil leaders) stood confidently in the face of punishment. I am truly having misgivings supporting him so adamantly as others have on this forum and elsewhere.

smo7
smo7

Mr. Snowden is no hero.  Thousands of soldiers and their officers are risking their lives every day whether they agree with policies or not. Mr. Snowden is disclosing secrets to our enemies (Russia, China, Venezuela..). If he wanted to bring awareness to privacy, he could as effectively done while staying in the USA without provide the Chinese laptops filled with information.  

cactus55
cactus55

@hebb_90I don't see how surrendering to a secret court and a country that will not have a real trial can possibly count as "doing what's right".  When you have a government that insists it has the right to lock people up indefinitely with no access to lawyers and redefines the definition of torture, then supports black sites around the world, who would trust such a system?  He's already worked for the CIA, so I'm sure he knows exactly what's waiting for him should he "do the right thing".  I'm sorry, but you've shown absolutely unbelievable ignorance in your posts.

hebb_90
hebb_90

The United States of America stands as a democracy in a cold selfish world. We as Americans are hated by many by peoples that do not hold the same values that we take for granted every day. Most don't fully understand that there are people out there less fortunate that hate us for what we have and are out to take us down in any way they can. It is not American to do what Snowden did or else he would not be hiding everywhere other than here. I have to have faith that our laws protect the innocent, especially with this many people aware of what's going on. The details and outcome of this situation hold value to every single American and ultimately, every person in the world that has hopes of obtaining our freedoms. Snowden needs to turn himself in and bring this to a close. If he doesn't then he is showing that he is the one in the wrong with ill intentions towards the United States.

dwightneller
dwightneller

What a burn on Feinstein, Schumer and friends. Democrats gone wild !! The "civil rights party" attempts to shred the constitution and gets caught running naked through DC. Gun control blasted down to bits. Why? Because it's dumb and solves 0 problems. (kids on experimental medications. violent movies, video games, no hope or change that makes anyone feel better about the future ... blah blah blah) Snowden comes to the rescue. Exposes Feinstein (again) as the draconian freak that she really is. (failed at that) How much more will it take before the People take action to spay and neuter these vorpal psychotics? The PATRIOT Act cannot stand in a free society. Any politician who is still in support of it must go away now. National security depends on it. China took the only smart move. I hope Snowden will find some peace and still remain alive. These politicians are horrible people and their pit bulls are always ready for a kill. 


Hey Chuck, did you personally coach Kevin Spacey for his role in "House of Cards"?

hebb_90
hebb_90

I believe there is a more peaceful resolve to this situation that doesn't include any violence or force. If Snowden is innocent he will do what is right

hebb_90
hebb_90

For Snowden's own safety he should turn himself in. If he is not guilty of anything why is he running? He has a chance to clear his name with our right of due process. Let the people decide what is right when all the evidence is before them.

PoliticalForumOrg
PoliticalForumOrg

I have to say I have lost a lot of respect for the US and the Obama admin since this whole saga started. I was even skeptical of Assange and Wiki leaks before. But now after watching how the US rednecks have gone on TV calling for Snowdens head from day 1, the vicious threats from the politicians and lately the way they are foaming at the mouth now since Snowden left Hong Kong.

Originally Snowden only made public about the spying on average Americans and personally I though it was good it was made transparent and open to public debate.

Then the US politicians went on a vicious parade of attacks and a public witch-hunt for Snowden. They should have backed off then and handled it better and got in touch with him and offered a deal. Instead they made public threats and just made themselves look bad. Who could blame him to then release more after he was flapped anyway and the US had made it clear they wanted his head.

The UK also jumped on the bandwagon and wanted to kiss the butt of their big cousin and declared war on Snowden by contacting airports around the world to not let Snowden go to the UK. They got what they deserved when Snowden leaked the story about the 2009 spying scandal at the world leader meeting hosting in the UK.

Snowden warned the US in his online chat that if they did not stop there would be equally damaging repercussions. So what did the US do, they got worse and laid espionage charges, theft charges and made more public threats.

So now they are saying why does he not go back to the USA and face the music? Well, it is obvious, just look at what happened to Manning or Assange (who I now have a lot of respect for) to know what would happen if the US get a hold of him. It is clear he would never see daylight again and would most likely be executed like they do with many of their own people each week.

USA, not such a friendly country as they make out!

hebb_90
hebb_90

When first hearing about this it was easy for me to say Snowden is right  and the government is wrong, violating my constitutional rights. But when I thought about it I don't know much about this situation at all. To come to a better informed decision about this  I need to understand what information was being collected and for what purposes it was used for. Also with Snowden, certain things are not adding up in my mind like this guy had no worry about being out of a job and also, how is he managing to travel with seemingly unlimited funds. Perhaps this is political when seen though eyes that are less ignorant than I have had and posted in other places.

rghtgop11
rghtgop11

freedom of the press is to let the public know what is going on .something this government doesn't want. if the public knows its harder for them to be crooks.  fight al-queada in one country and arm them in another...as bad as bush admin. was this ones worse. killing of 4 American citizens without trail sounds a lot like something the founders of this country was against,but not this government that's trying to take over the world

FareedAnsari
FareedAnsari

Snow-Job has been had.  It is evident he is not calling the shots and has handlers.  I had to Google WikiLeaks who are more than likely behind this:  


According to the WikiLeaks website, its goal is "to bring important news and information to the public... One of our most important activities is to publish original source material alongside our news stories so readers and historians alike can see evidence of the truth."


There is a serious problem here.  

Evidence is ONLY admissible IF it is OBTAINED LEGALLY.  All of WikiLeaks "revelations" are stolen material; so how can the truth be ascertained, when the veracity of stolen material is lost by the broken chain of custody.  The stolen material may or may not be factual, and say what ever those that possess it want it to say?  


Two wrongs don't make a right.  WikiLeaks and Erick Snow-Job are pissing in the wind.

AbaDablam
AbaDablam

It comes somewhat as a relief to read that Snowden is finally listening to and requesting advice from people better informed than himself w.r. extraditions. We need him secure for a long period, and not just fighting extradition, but rather explaining and corroborating his claims about US and UK spying around.

mrbomb13
mrbomb13

$100 says this guy ends up dead by the end of the year by an 'unknown assassin.'  Who's in?

HarryDangler
HarryDangler

Ha ha ha!  Stickin' it o the American man.  Since we don't have the courage to stand up to our arrogant law breaking government, it's nice to some one who will.

roknsteve
roknsteve

If the NSA follows me on Ebay looking at oldies CD's they will be bored to death in 5 minutes. 

ShamsAci
ShamsAci

The question arises whether US surveillance practices had gone too far or whistleblower Edward Snowden's sensational leaking of an Internet surveillance program is wrong or right. - A.R.Shams's Reflection

AbrahamYeshuratnam
AbrahamYeshuratnam

Media has reported that one attendee at Netroots Nation booed Palosi and screamed, "You suck." Pelosi is not qualified to criticize Snowden for she did the most unpatriotic act of going to Damascus during Bush presidency and shaking the bloody hands of Assad whose stance and activities at that time were totally anti-American.

internetfavs
internetfavs

How did he pass airport security?

internetfavs.com

AnonymousSourcerer
AnonymousSourcerer

Let's assume that Snowden is guilty as your slant subtly does with "All three crimes carry a maximum sentence of 10 years imprisonment."

How many years does the crime of illegally spying on millions of innocent Americans carry. THAT's the story.

.

BlindCuriosity
BlindCuriosity

@hebb_90 I wonder what Michael Hastings would have to say about that.  Oh that's right,  they already killed him because he was about to come forward.  If you can't see that this government is lying to you then there nothing I, or anyone else, can say to you to help you see it.  

From the Lucitania to Operation Northwoods to the Gulf of Tonken to the recent IRS non-profit status scandal, the government of this, my beloved country, is lying to us all.  Steel your nerves and search any or all of these subjects but sit down before you do because the truth is out and its not the truth you have faith in.

P.S.  More bad news very few people out there hate us, the truth is they are too busy trying to feed their families to give a rip.

cactus55
cactus55

The only people with ill intentions toward the United States are the current enemies to the Constitution who are in power at this moment.  Not American?  What the hell do you think is American, spying on your fellow citizens while denying them their fundamental rights?  I'm sorry, but you do not speak for me.  I see you are the one with ill intentions.

hebb_90
hebb_90

if not then obviously he did not have America's interest in mind.

dv80x41
dv80x41

@hebb_90 Right of due process in one of our secret courts? Ask how due process has worked out for others accused of being a terrorist. He was smart not to trust the gov.

dv80x41
dv80x41

@FareedAnsari I would say that the fact they are filing charges for Snowden leaking those files is proof enough the files are the real thing. Chain of custody is meant to preserve evidence so there can be no question of it's authenticity. The US Gov saying those are the real classified documents and filing charges shows they are authentic. Your argument is invalid.

JeffreyC.Soto
JeffreyC.Soto

@FareedAnsari Two wrongs can indeed make a right. When you're staring down the barrel of a gun, you strike to kill. When you're faced with a choice of abiding by your country's laws and following your own conscience, you must obey your conscience.

Are you questioning the veracity of Wikileaks' published documents? You can research each individually, but you can't just wave off the entire site. Were you not already aware of their existence from all of the major scandals they've brought to light recently? They do good work.

duduong
duduong

@mrbomb13

You mean like in a mysterious fire ball a la Michael Hastings?

kuei12
kuei12

@internetfavs ...That's is only a problem in america. Especially, if you are an american citizen. Americans are the enemy of the american government.

hebb_90
hebb_90

@BlindCuriosity @hebb_90  I have been taught to expect the worst and hope for the best. There most likely will be many more deaths until this beast we let grow eliminates all opposition, locks everyone up, or has them under their thumb. There most likely will be no peaceful way that these people are going to leave to prison and execution where they belong short of WW3. They are watching right now. Bush said it all when he said anyone not for what he was doing is a terrorist when the fact is that the twin towers situation most likely was a staged operation by the government itself. There is a bigger plan here and in no way am I threatening you but if you get in their way you will most likely be dead. Don't think that I truly believe that what I posted the 1st time was what I feel. I need to know the hearts of others before we get together, show them what the power of the people is capable of and replace this corrupt government, and install another with even more checks and balances, responsibility consolidation, governmental pay cuts and caps, whatever it takes to make this corruption impossible. Reformation is the will of the people and like I said, this will not happen willingly from our government. people don't know what freedom is unless they are the ones running things. Americans are free to do what they are told. I think it is close to the time to practicing our constitutional right of replacing this government and wait diligently for people to step up, not take advantage, and form another plan so we can give our final petition to this current government.

waldropl
waldropl

that and legality does not make it acceptable. Tyrants have risen to power through legal means.

BlindCuriosity
BlindCuriosity

@waldroplIt is Illegal.

According to the Patriot act Section 215 the NSA or any other part of the government " Shall specify the records of concerned are sought for an AUTHORIZED INVESTIGATION conducted in accordance with subsection (A)(2) to protect against international terrorism or clandestine intelligence services."  

So unless every wireless caller in America has made suspect international calls and is actively and individually suspected of terrorism then the recording of this information is very much illegal. 

BlindCuriosity
BlindCuriosity

@kuei12 @nstaley401 @AnonymousSourcerer

It is Illegal.

According to the Patriot act Section 215 the NSA or any other part of the government " Shall specify the records of concerned are sought for an AUTHORIZED INVESTIGATION conducted in accordance with subsection (A)(2) to protect against international terrorism or clandestine intelligence services."  

So unless every wireless caller in America has made suspect international calls and is actively and individually suspected of terrorism then the recording of this information is very much illegal. 

n7specops
n7specops

@Tical @kuei12 @nstaley401 @AnonymousSourcerer Not to sound too much like some kind of crazy or a radical or whatever, but... The courts haven't deemed the Patriot Act unconstitutional because they are part of the tyrannical system. Someone or a group of people or members of the court them self are benefiting from the Patriot Act, so as long as that goes on, of course no one with any power will ever deem something like the Patriot Act unconstitutional, illegal, or in violation of civil or human rights.