by David Phinney
Saturday March 17th 2018



Snowden Update: Hong Kong Asylum Uncertain

This from Reuters regarding Edward Snowden’s chances for asylum in Hong Kong after he took credit on Sunday for revealing classified documents about and scope of U.S. electronic intelligence programs:

Regina Ip, a Hong Kong lawmaker and former security secretary, said it would be wise for Snowden to leave Hong Kong.

“We do have bilateral agreements with the U.S. and we are duty-bound to comply with these agreements. Hong Kong is not a legal vacuum, as Mr. Snowden might have thought,” Ip said.

But Simon Young, a professor of law at the University of Hong Kong, said that going to the former British colony was probably a good decision because there are strong protections for people making asylum claims under its extradition laws.

“He’s come really at probably the best moment in time because our asylum laws are in a state of limbo,” Young said.

If Snowden remains in Hong Kong, and the former low-level CIA employee may be savvy enough to make an exit if he chooses, I wouldn’t be surprised in Hong Kong officials hold Snowden for the referenced 60 days. That would open the door for Chinese and U.S. government officials to grandstand and whisper on a number of issues — including U.S. support for dissidents in China to Chinese and U.S. cyber policies.

THAT SAID: I yield to Matt Schiavenza with the Atlantic and his more conventional analysis. If China wants to offer Snowden the opportunity to avoid the looming possibility of extradition, it may because of Snowden’s “useful” knowledge about U.S. intelligence operations. Schiavenza thinks that’s doubtful, as I do, because China probably knows everything Snowden knows.

“Why risk an international incident with the United States in order to obtain information China already has, or can find out easily?” notes Schiavenza.

The Atlantic associate editor, who oversees The China Channel, asserts that a pledge for friendlier relations on the heels of the recent China/U.S. summit in California, China will play ball with any extradition request.

I still think China will take its time. Snowden presents a tacit convenient bargaining chip.