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Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Hong Kong Responds To U.S. On NSA Leaker: 'Pay More Attention To Names And Numbers'

By Susan Duclos

Hong Kong officials, in response to the Obama administration's harsh rhetoric regarding Hong Kong allowing NSA leaker Edward Snowden to board a plane and escape capture by U.S. authorities, is that the Obama administration should pay more attention to names and numbers, as they accuse the U.S. of providing the wrong name for Snowden and not providing Snowden's passport number.

It is a snarky excuse, basically saying the U.S. didn't dot every I and cross every T, therefore they couldn't prevent Snowden from leaving Hong Kong.


By now, the world is very familiar with the name Edward Snowden, the former U.S. government contractor who says he has leaked classified information about the U.S. National Security Agency’s data-collection methods. But at least when it comes to U.S. and Hong Kong authorities, his middle name is a matter of some dispute.

Hong Kong’s justice secretary, Rimsky Yuen, says that according to Hong Kong immigration records, Joseph is the middle name in Mr. Snowden’s passport. Yet when the U.S. government submitted documents as part of a request to their Hong Kong counterparts to issue a provisional arrest warrant for the former security contractor, they specified one Edward James Snowden. In another, they simply referred to him as Edward J. Snowden, according to Mr. Yuen.

That, among other factors, helped contribute to the processing of the U.S.’s request. What’s more, Mr. Yuen added, attempts to process the U.S. request were further complicated by the fact that the U.S. didn’t specify any passport number for Mr. Snowden in its documents.

Mr. Yuen’s comments come after the U.S. blasted Hong Kong and Chinese authorities for allowing Mr. Snowden to leave the Chinese territory aboard a flight to seek political refuge overseas. Mr. Snowden’s location is currently unknown. Reports have said he is headed for Ecuador.

Mr. Yuen said that Hong Kong authorities had asked for clarification on Friday, June 21, but had yet to get any reply by the time Mr. Snowden chose to leave the city on an international flight on Sunday morning.

“Until the minute of Snowden’s departure, the U.S. government hadn’t yet replied to our requests for clarification,” he said. “Hong Kong’s government had no legal basis to block his departure,” Mr. Yuen said. “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.”
With the majority of Hong Kong's population considering Snowden some type of hero for exposing the extent of the Obama administration's  domestic and international spying, Hong Kong officials were most likely looking for a reason to make the apprehension of Snowden totally the responsibility of the U.S. with no appearance of helping them do so.

As far as China is concerned, Snowden and the U.S. are now Russia's problem, and as was reported yesterday, Russian President Vladimir Putin, has made it clear that it is his position that Snowden “has not committed any crime” on Russian soil, is a "free person, " who is "entitled to buy a ticket and fly to wherever he wants."

In the meantime, Snowden appears to be stuck in the Moscow airport without a valid passport to buy a ticket, yet no one has been able to catch sight of him or get a picture of him, to prove he is even there at all.

Although dozens of Moscow-based journalists have been staked out at the airport since Sunday, not a single image of Snowden has surfaced.

A receptionist at the Air Express Capsule Hotel in Terminal E of Sheremetyevo Airport told RIA-Novosti that Snowden had in fact spent several hours in one of the suites, “but left a long time ago.”

Several journalists attempted to make contact with Snowden during his stay at the hotel, but were unsuccessful, the hotel employee continued. 

At this point it almost seems as if Russia, China, Snowden and Wikileaks officials, who are helping Snowden, are all enjoying watching Obama chase his own tail.