Why Does Snowden Remain Free?

Your News Companion by Ben Mathis-Lilley
June 22 2013 1:50 PM

Hong Kong Remains Silent on U.S. Extradition Request for Edward Snowden

170789711
A woman walks past a banner displayed in support of Edward Snowden in Hong Kong

Photo by PHILIPPE LOPEZ/AFP/Getty Images

It has been more than a week since the United States asked Hong Kong to arrest Edward Snowden, but the former National Security Agency contractor remains free. Why? No one really knows. Snowden has not been detained, is not under police protection but is in a “safe place” in Hong Kong, reports the South China Morning Post. The U.S. government asked Hong Kong to detain Snowden on June 14, the same day it filed criminal charges against the former contractor for theft of government property and espionage.

The United States and Hong Kong have an extradition treaty that has been in place since 1998 but so far there’s been no word on whether the local government intends to arrest Snowden. One former high-ranking Hong Kong official tells the New York Times it seems certain that local authorities have identified Snowden’s location, but points out Washington may have been too slow to disclose charges. The delay may have given supporters time to get ready for a potential defense, and now “plans to protect Snowden appear to be unfolding,” reports the Washington Post. Many in Hong Kong believe Snowden should not be extradited and there are several ways in which the former contractor could avoid that fate, including requesting political asylum, points out the Los Angeles Times.

Advertisement

In order to extradite Snowden, Hong Kong authorities would have to charge him with an equivalent crime. Even if they do that though, the spying charges would almost certainly lead to court fights. One lawyer said the whole extradition proceeding could take anywhere from three to five years, reports Reuters. And even if a court approves Snowden’s extradition, Hong Kong’s leader or even China, could nix the move on national security claims.

Daniel Politi has been contributing to Slate since 2004 and wrote the "Today's Papers" column from 2006 to 2009. You can follow him on Twitter @dpoliti.

TODAY IN SLATE

History

The Self-Made Man

The story of America’s most pliable, pernicious, irrepressible myth.

The GOP Senate Candidate in Iowa Doesn’t Want Voters to Know Just How Conservative She Really Is

Does Your Child Have “Sluggish Cognitive Tempo”? Or Is That Just a Disorder Made Up to Scare You?

Why Indians in America Are Mad for India’s New Prime Minister

The Strange History of Wives Gazing at Their Husbands in Political Ads

Television

See Me

Transparent is the fall’s only great new show.

Building a Better Workplace

You Deserve a Pre-cation

The smartest job perk you’ve never heard of.

Rehtaeh Parsons Was the Most Famous Victim in Canada. Now, Journalists Can’t Even Say Her Name.

Parents, Get Your Teenage Daughters the IUD

The XX Factor
Sept. 30 2014 12:34 PM Parents, Get Your Teenage Daughters the IUD
Moneybox
Sept. 30 2014 12:04 PM John Hodgman on Why He Wore a Blue Dress to Impersonate Ayn Rand
  News & Politics
Jurisprudence
Sept. 30 2014 2:36 PM This Court Erred The Supreme Court has almost always sided with the wealthy, the privileged, and the powerful.
  Business
Building a Better Workplace
Sept. 30 2014 1:16 PM You Deserve a Pre-cation The smartest job perk you’ve never heard of.
  Life
Education
Sept. 30 2014 1:48 PM Thrashed Florida State’s new president is underqualified and mistrusted. But here’s how he can turn it around.
  Double X
The XX Factor
Sept. 30 2014 12:34 PM Parents, Get Your Teenage Daughters the IUD
  Slate Plus
Behind the Scenes
Sept. 30 2014 3:21 PM Meet Jordan Weissmann Five questions with Slate’s senior business and economics correspondent.
  Arts
Brow Beat
Sept. 30 2014 2:56 PM How Faithful Is David Fincher’s Gone Girl?
  Technology
Future Tense
Sept. 30 2014 2:38 PM Scientists Use Electrical Impulses to Help Paralyzed Rats Walk Again
  Health & Science
Bad Astronomy
Sept. 30 2014 7:30 AM What Lurks Beneath the Methane Lakes of Titan?
  Sports
Sports Nut
Sept. 28 2014 8:30 PM NFL Players Die Young. Or Maybe They Live Long Lives. Why it’s so hard to pin down the effects of football on players’ lives.