“Hong Kong silent so far on Edward Snowden extradition”

June 22, 2013

The Independent on June 22, 2013 released the following:

Associated Press

“Hong Kong has remained silent thus far on whether former National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden should be extradited to the United States now that he has been charged with espionage, but some legislators said the decision should be up to the Chinese government.

Edward Snowden, believed to be holed up in Hong Kong, has admitted providing information to the news media about two highly classified NSA surveillance programs.

The Hong Kong government had no immediate reaction to the charges against Snowden. Police Commissioner, Andy Tsang, when was asked about the development, told reporters only that the case would be dealt with according to the law. A police statement said it was “inappropriate” for the police to comment on the case.

When China regained control of Hong Kong in 1997, the former British colony was granted a high degree of autonomy and rights and freedoms not seen on mainland China. However, under the city’s mini constitution Beijing is allowed to intervene in matters involving defence and diplomatic affairs.

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 also urged the people of Hong Kong to “take to the streets to protect Snowden.”

Another legislator, Cyd Ho, vice-chairwoman of the pro-democracy Labour Party, said China “should now make its stance clear to the Hong Kong SAR (Special Administrative Region) government” before the case goes before a court.

China has urged Washington to provide explanations following the disclosures of National Security Agency programs which collect millions of telephone records and track foreign Internet activity on US networks, but it has not commented on Snowden’s status in Hong Kong.

A formal extradition request, which could drag through appeal courts for years, would pit Beijing against Washington at a time China tries to deflect US accusations that it carries out extensive surveillance on American government and commercial operations.

Snowden’s whereabouts have not been publicly known since he checked out of a Hong Kong hotel on June 10. He said in an interview with the South China Morning Post 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.” Tsang said in interview broadcast on local television that he could not comment when asked about a local newspaper report that Snowden was in a police “safe house.”

Snowden and his supporters have also spoken of his seeking asylum from Iceland.

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

“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.

The process could become a prolonged legal battle, with Snowden contesting 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.”

As International Extradition Lawyer Douglas C. McNabb predicted, the U.S. has charged Mr. Snowden in a Federal Criminal Complaint. He was charged on June 14, 2013 with the following federal crimes:

  • 18 USC 641 – Theft of Government Property
  • 18 USC 793(d) – Unauthorized Communication of National Defense Information
  • 18 USC 798(a)(3) – Willful Communication of Classified Communications Intelligence Information to an Unauthorized Person

A copy of the Snowden Federal Criminal Complaint may be found here.

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Douglas McNabb – McNabb Associates, P.C.’s
International Extradition Lawyers Videos:

International Extradition – When the FBI Seeks Extradition

International Extradition – Wire Transfer – Email – Telephone Call

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We previously discussed the extradition treaty between the United States and Hong Kong here.

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To find additional global criminal news, please read The Global Criminal Defense Daily.

Douglas McNabb and other members of the U.S. law firm practice and write and/or report extensively on matters involving Federal Criminal Defense, INTERPOL Red Notice Removal, International Extradition Defense, OFAC SDN Sanctions Removal, International Criminal Court Defense, and US Seizure of Non-Resident, Foreign-Owned Assets. Because we have experience dealing with INTERPOL, our firm understands the inter-relationship that INTERPOL’s “Red Notice” brings to this equation.

The author of this blog is Douglas C. McNabb. Please feel free to contact him directly at mcnabb@mcnabbassociates.com or at one of the offices listed above.

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“Snowden extradition battle in Hong Kong could go on for years”

June 22, 2013

Reuters on June 22, 2013 released the following:

“By James Pomfret

(Reuters) – A former U.S. National Security Agency (NSA) contractor charged with spying by the United States and in hiding in Hong Kong is expected to be the subject of a formal extradition request at any time in what could drag into a legal battle lasting years.

Since making his revelations about massive U.S. surveillance programs, legal sources in Hong Kong say Edward Snowden, 30, has sought legal representation from human rights lawyers as he prepares to fight U.S. attempts to force him home for trial.

U.S. authorities have charged Snowden with theft of U.S. government property, unauthorized communication of national defense information and willful communication of classified communications intelligence to an unauthorized person, with the latter two charges coming under the U.S. Espionage Act.

The United States and Hong Kong signed an extradition treaty which came into effect in 1998, a year after Hong Kong returned from British to Chinese rule. Scores of Americans have been sent back home for trial since then.

While espionage and theft of state secrets are not cited specifically in the treaty, equivalent charges could be pressed against Snowden under Hong Kong’s Official Secrets Ordinance, legal experts said.

If Hong Kong authorities did not charge Snowden with an equivalent crime, authorities could not extradite him, lawyers said. In the absence of charges, Snowden was also theoretically free to leave the city, one legal expert said.

Simon Young, a law professor at the University of Hong Kong, said that while the first charge involving theft might readily find equivalence in Hong Kong, the latter two spying offences will likely attract “litigation and dispute” in the courts.

The timeframe for such proceedings remains unclear, but Hectar Pun, a lawyer with human rights expertise, was quoted as saying such an extradition could take three to five years.

Under Hong Kong’s extradition mechanism, a request first goes through diplomatic channels to Hong Kong’s leader, who decides whether to issue an “authority to proceed”. If granted, a magistrate issues a formal warrant for the arrest of Snowden.

Once brought before the court, the judge would decide whether there was sufficient evidence to commit Snowden to trial or dismiss the case, though any decision could be appealed in a higher court.

Snowden could claim political asylum in Hong Kong, arguing he would face torture back home. Article six of the treaty states extradition should be refused for “an offence of a political character”.

“The unfairness of his trial at home and his likely treatment in custody” were important factors to consider for Snowden, said Young, the law professor, on Snowden’s chances of claiming political immunity from extradition.

Should a Hong Kong court eventually call for Snowden’s extradition, Hong Kong’s leader and China could, however, still veto the decision on national security or defense grounds.

Snowden has admitted leaking secrets about classified U.S. surveillance programs, which he said he did in the public interest. Supporters say he is a whistleblower, while critics call him a criminal and perhaps even a traitor.”

As International Extradition Lawyer Douglas McNabb predicted, the U.S. has charged Mr. Snowden in a Federal Criminal Complaint. He was charged on June 14, 2013 with the following federal crimes:

  • 18 USC 641 – Theft of Government Property
  • 18 USC 793(d) – Unauthorized Communication of National Defense Information
  • 18 USC 798(a)(3) – Willful Communication of Classified Communications Intelligence Information to an Unauthorized Person

A copy of the Snowden Federal Criminal Complaint may be found here.

————————————————————–

Douglas McNabb – McNabb Associates, P.C.’s
International Extradition Lawyers Videos:

International Extradition – When the FBI Seeks Extradition

International Extradition – Wire Transfer – Email – Telephone Call

————————————————————–

We previously discussed the extradition treaty between the United States and Hong Kong here.

————————————————————–

To find additional global criminal news, please read The Global Criminal Defense Daily.

Douglas McNabb and other members of the U.S. law firm practice and write and/or report extensively on matters involving Federal Criminal Defense, INTERPOL Red Notice Removal, International Extradition Defense, OFAC SDN Sanctions Removal, International Criminal Court Defense, and US Seizure of Non-Resident, Foreign-Owned Assets. Because we have experience dealing with INTERPOL, our firm understands the inter-relationship that INTERPOL’s “Red Notice” brings to this equation.

The author of this blog is Douglas C. McNabb. Please feel free to contact him directly at mcnabb@mcnabbassociates.com or at one of the offices listed above.

————————————————————–

International criminal defense questions, but want to be anonymous?

Free Skype Tel: +1.202.470.3427, OR

Free Skype call:

           Office Locations

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U.S. v. Edward J. Snowden – Federal Criminal Complaint

June 21, 2013

As International Extradition Lawyer Douglas McNabb predicted, the U.S. has charged Mr. Snowden in a Federal Criminal Complaint. He was charged on June 14, 2013 with the following federal criminal violations:

  • 18 USC 641 – Theft of Government Property
  • 18 USC 793(d) – Unauthorized Communication of National Defense Information
  • 18 USC 798(a)(3) – Willful Communication of Classified Communications Intelligence Information to an Unauthorized Person

A copy of the Snowden Federal Criminal Complaint may be found here.

“U.S. charges Snowden with espionage”

The Washington Post on June 21, 2013 released the following:

By Peter Finn and Sari Horwitz,

“Federal prosecutors have filed a criminal complaint against Edward Snowden, the former National Security Agency contractor who leaked a trove of documents about top-secret surveillance programs, and the United States has asked Hong Kong to detain him on a provisional arrest warrant, according to U.S. officials.

Snowden was charged with theft, “unauthorized communication of national defense information” and “willful communication of classified communications intelligence information to an unauthorized person,” according to the complaint. The last two charges were brought under the 1917 Espionage Act.

The complaint, which initially was sealed, was filed in the Eastern District of Virginia, a jurisdiction where Snowden’s former employer, Booz Allen Hamilton, is headquartered and a district with a long track record of prosecuting cases with national security implications. After The Washington Post reported the charges, senior administration officials said late Friday that the Justice Department was barraged with calls from lawmakers and reporters and decided to unseal the criminal complaint.

A Justice Department spokeswoman declined to comment.

Snowden flew to Hong Kong last month after leaving his job at an NSA facility in Hawaii with a collection of highly classified documents that he acquired while working at the agency as a systems analyst.

The documents, some of which have been published in The Post and Britain’s Guardian newspaper, detailed some of the most-
secret surveillance operations undertaken by the United States and Britain , as well as classified legal memos and court orders underpinning the programs in the United States.

The 30-year-old intelligence analyst revealed himself June 9 as the leaker in an interview with the Guardian and said he went to Hong Kong because it provided the “cultural and legal framework to allow me to work without being immediately detained.”

Snowden subsequently disappeared from public view; it is thought that he is still in the Chinese territory. Hong Kong has its own legislative and legal systems but ultimately answers to Beijing, under the “one country, two systems” arrangement.

The leaks have sparked national and international debates about the secret powers of the NSA to infringe on the privacy of Americans and foreigners. Officials from President Obama on down have said they welcome the opportunity to explain the importance of the programs and the safeguards they say are built into them. Skeptics, including some in Congress, have said the NSA has assumed the power to soak up data about Americans that was never intended under the law.

There was never any doubt that the Justice Department would seek to prosecute Snowden for one of the most significant national security leaks in the country’s history. The Obama administration has shown a particular propensity to go after leakers and has launched more investigations than any previous administration. This White House is responsible for bringing six of the nine total indictments ever brought under the 1917 Espionage Act. Snowden will be the seventh individual when he is formally indicted.

Justice Department officials had already said that a criminal investigation of Snowden was underway and was being run out of the FBI’s Washington field office in conjunction with lawyers from the department’s National Security Division.

By filing a criminal complaint, prosecutors have a legal basis to make the detention request of the authorities in Hong Kong. Prosecutors now have 60 days to file an indictment, probably under seal, and can then move to have Snowden extradited from Hong Kong for trial in the United States.

Snowden, however, can fight the extradition effort in the courts in Hong Kong. Any battle is likely to reach Hong Kong’s highest court and could last many months, lawyers in the United States and Hong Kong said.

The United States has an extradition treaty with Hong Kong, and U.S. officials said cooperation with the Chinese territory, which enjoys some autonomy from Beijing, has been good in previous cases.

The treaty, however, has an exception for political offenses, and espionage has traditionally been treated as a political offense. Snowden’s defense team in Hong Kong is likely to invoke part of the extradition treaty with the United States, which states that suspects will not be turned over to face criminal trial for offenses of a “political character.”

Typically in such cases, Hong Kong’s chief executive must first decide whether to issue a warrant for the accused’s arrest. But the extradition treaty also says that in exceptional cases a provisional warrant can be issued by a Hong Kong judge without the chief executive’s approval. The judge must give the chief executive notice, however, that he has issued the warrant.

A spokesperson at the office of Hong Kong chief executive Leung Chun-ying said there was no information on Snowden’s case. The police department did not respond to calls or e-mails. At the police station for Central District in Hong Kong Island, police officers on duty said they had not heard anything about Snowden.

If Snowden is arrested, he would appear before a judge. Bail would be unlikely and, instead, Snowden would be sent to the Lai Chi Kok maximum-security facility in Kowloon, a short drive from the high-end Mira Hotel, where he is last known to have stayed in Hong Kong.

Snowden could also remain in Hong Kong if the Chinese government decides that it is not in the defense or foreign policy interests of the government in Beijing to have him sent back to the United States for trial.

Another option would be for Snowden to apply for asylum with the United Nations High Commission for Refugees, which handles most asylum requests in Hong Kong. The UNHCR was closed Saturday morning and did not immediately respond to requests for comment via e-mail and phone. The asylum application process can take months or even years because Hong Kong has a severe backlog. The Hong Kong government cannot formally surrender individuals until their asylum applications have been processed.

Snowden also could attempt to reach another jurisdiction and seek asylum there before the authorities in Hong Kong act.”

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Douglas McNabb – McNabb Associates, P.C.’s
International Extradition Lawyers Videos:

International Extradition – When the FBI Seeks Extradition

International Extradition – Wire Transfer – Email – Telephone Call

————————————————————–

To find additional global criminal news, please read The Global Criminal Defense Daily.

Douglas McNabb and other members of the U.S. law firm practice and write and/or report extensively on matters involving Federal Criminal Defense, INTERPOL Red Notice Removal, International Extradition Defense, OFAC SDN Sanctions Removal, International Criminal Court Defense, and US Seizure of Non-Resident, Foreign-Owned Assets. Because we have experience dealing with INTERPOL, our firm understands the inter-relationship that INTERPOL’s “Red Notice” brings to this equation.

The author of this blog is Douglas C. McNabb. Please feel free to contact him directly at mcnabb@mcnabbassociates.com or at one of the offices listed above.

————————————————————–

International criminal defense questions, but want to be anonymous?

Free Skype Tel: +1.202.470.3427, OR

Free Skype call:

           Office Locations

Email: