By Jonathan Lemire, NY DAILY NEWS: The United States has asked Hong Kong to hand over Edward Snowden, the former National Security Agency analyst who is allegedly hiding in the Chinese province that revealed the government’s Internet and cellphone surveillance programs. But there’s been no word if Hong Kong will turn him over to the U.S. or whether the process would happen right away.
American authorities have contacted Hong Kong about starting the extradition of whistle-blower Edward Snowden, the National Security Council said.
Snowden, who has admitted to leaking information about two classified NSA surveillance programs to the media, is believed to be hiding in the Chinese province.
It was not immediately clear whether the Hong Kong government would honor one. Even once a request was made, it could be years before Snowden is forced to return to the United States.
Moreover, a request could further strain China-U.S. relations at a time when Washington has already accused China of spying on the U.S. military and businesses.
Hong Kong, a former British colony, was placed under China’s control in 1997 but still retains a large degree of autonomy. China has the ability to intervene in international affairs but Beijing has yet to show any sign that it would.
Snowden has said he hid in Hong Kong because he had “faith” in its courts.
A criminal complaint against Snowden alleges the contractor violated the Espionage Act and stole government property.
He could face 30 years in prison.
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