The Free Press, Mankato, MN

State, national news

June 22, 2013

US to Hong Kong: Don't delay Snowden extradition

(Continued)

The complaint is dated June 14, five days after Snowden's name first surfaced as the person who had leaked to the news media that the NSA, in two highly classified surveillance programs, gathered telephone and Internet records to ferret out terror plots.

Snowden told the South China Morning Post in an interview published Saturday on its website that he hoped to stay in the autonomous region of China because he has faith in "the courts and people of Hong Kong to decide my fate."

A prominent former politician in Hong Kong, Martin Lee, the founding chairman of the Democratic Party, said he doubted whether Beijing would intervene yet.

"Beijing would only intervene according to my understanding at the last stage. If the magistrate said there is enough to extradite, then Mr. Snowden can then appeal," he said.

Lee said Beijing could then decide at the end of the appeal process if it wanted Snowden extradited or not.

Snowden could contest extradition on grounds of political persecution.

Hong Kong lawyer Mark Sutherland said that the filing of a refugee, torture or inhuman punishment claim acts as an automatic bar on any extradition proceedings until those claims can be assessed.

"Some asylum seekers came to Hong Kong 10 years ago and still haven't had their protection claims assessed," Sutherland said.

Hong Kong lawmakers said that the Chinese government should make the final decision on whether Snowden should be extradited to the United States.

Outspoken legislator Leung Kwok-hung said Beijing should instruct Hong Kong to protect Snowden from extradition before his case gets dragged through the court system.

Leung urged the people of Hong Kong to "take to the streets to protect Snowden."

The Obama administration has now used the Espionage Act in seven criminal cases in an unprecedented effort to stem leaks. In one of them, Army Pfc. Bradley Manning acknowledged he sent more than 700,000 battlefield reports, diplomatic cables and other materials to the anti-secrecy website WikiLeaks. His military trial is underway.

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