NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden reportedly claims that he isn’t a traitor or a hero.
Snowden, the contractor who leaked the details of the massive National Security Agency PRISM domestic spying program, fled to Hong Kong from Hawaii last month, and on Saturday outed himself as the source of the bombshell revelation about internet surveillance. He previously stated that he headed to Hong Kong because of the city’s tradition of free speech.
In an interview with a Hong Kong news outlet about his sudden international fame, Snowden insisted that “I’m neither traitor nor hero. I’m an American.”
Added Snowden: “People who think I made a mistake in picking HK as a location misunderstand my intentions. I am not here to hide from justice; I am here to reveal criminality.”
Snowden would have to be formally indicted for a crime by a US federal grand jury or other equivalent body before any extradition request to send him back stateside for trial would be appropriate.
As far as extradition to the US is concerned, the 29-year-old former Booz Allen contractor maintained that “My intention is to ask the courts and people of Hong Kong to decide my fate. I have been given no reason to doubt your system.’”
Hong Kong is considered a special administrative region of China with a substantial degree of autonomy from the Beijing communist government pursuant to the 1997 treaty. However, Beijing by law can veto a decision by Hong Kong to extradite someone “if the request affects Beijing’s ‘defense, foreign affairs, or essential public interest or policy.’ “
Hong Kong officials have yet to make a formal statement about Snowden’s status. Regina Ip, chair of the pro-Beijing New People’s Party and formerly Hong Kong’s security secretary, previously commented, however, that Hong Kong is not a safe harbor for Snowden, and it would be in his best interests to go elsewhere. It doesn’t sound like he is pulling up stakes anytime soon, however.
Separately, the Hong Kong Foreign Correspondents’ Club issued this statement about Edward Snowden: “The [club] believes that this case is potentially a strong test of the SAR government’s commitment to freedom of expression and freedom of the press. Snowden’s exact whereabouts are unknown. But should it prove that he has remained in Hong Kong, the FCC will watch closely how the SAR government handles his case, and in particular how it responds to any pressure from authorities both in Washington and Beijing to restrict his activities or to impede access by the media.”
Do you agree with Edward Snowden that he shouldn’t be considered either a traitor or a hero?