No delay in Snowden case: SJ
June 25, 2013
Secretary for Justice Rimsky Yuen has refuted claims that the Hong Kong Government deliberately delayed or obstructed extradition procedures in relation to Edward Snowden.
Mr Yuen told the media today that to issue a provisional warrant of arrest, the alleged offences would have to satisfy the dual criminality requirement under Hong Kong law. The Government has acted in full accordance with both the Fugitive Offenders Ordinance and the extradition treaty signed with the US in 1996, he said.
Hong Kong's Department of Justice wrote to the US Department of Justice on June 20 and 21, seeking clarification of certain legal and evidential matters, including Mr Snowden's full name and passport number, details on the charges, and what evidence would be relied on for prosecution. He said without this requested information, the department was unable to determine whether the charges fell within the scope of the extradition agreement.
It also sought clarification on whether US government agencies have hacked into Hong Kong computer systems as reported in the media, as this will affect the department’s consideration of whether the allegations against Mr Snowden are of a political nature, he said.
As US authorities still have not replied to requests for further information and clarification, the Hong Kong Government had no legal basis to ask the court to issue an arrest warrant, nor to stop Mr Snowden from leaving Hong Kong, he said.
When asked whether the Government had asked for the Central Government’s opinion in handling the matter, Mr Yuen said normal communication with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs’ office in Hong Kong has been maintained, but legal decisions are made by the department itself in strict accordance with the law.