NSA whistleblower's refuge in Hong Kong may not last

By: Associated Press Email
By: Associated Press Email
Photo: The Guardian via Reuters

Photo: The Guardian via Reuters

HONG KONG (AP) -- Will he be safe in Hong Kong? Not necessarily.

Edward Snowden, the U.S. defense contractor who says he leaked information on classified U.S. surveillance programs is hoping to stay out of U.S. custody by taking refuge there. But the refuge might only be temporary.

Although it has some autonomy, Hong Kong ultimately answers to Beijing, which is often at odds with Washington. But the U.S. is one of the largest investors in Hong Kong, and there's an extradition treaty between the two.

And the government in China might not want to stand up for Snowden. Beijing has often criticized foreign governments for harboring critics of Chinese leaders. And China is looking for U.S. cooperation on retrieving corrupt Chinese officials who have fled to America.

Still, Hong Kong has some ways to say "no" to extradition. Under its treaty with the U.S., one side can refuse an extradition request if it's considered to be politically motivated, or if the suspect is unlikely to get a fair trial.

A reporter for the British newspaper The Guardian -- one of the two papers to which Snowden leaked details of the surveillance programs -- says Snowden doesn't think he can get a fair trial in the United States. He says Snowden went to Hong Kong hoping to "avoid ending up in the clutches of the U.S. government as long as he can -- knowing that he likely won't succeed.


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