Sometimes, a story is not a story, because it is inevitable, except for the ignorant accusations that demonstrate how one side is completely filled with hot air and not much competence.
Such is the case of the dramatic “escape” of Edward Snowden from HK to Russia (of all places).
It was expected, because even US probably anticipated some kind of Snowden escape, to somewhere.
Hence, US appeared to be in a great rush to put a stop to it a week ago. Except, as usual, a rush often produces mistakes, big mistakes. And as usual, no one want to claim responsibility for the mistakes, just want to blame everyone else.
What is now becoming much clearer, is how Vengeful and Childish Western Democracies can be to punish any individual who speak out against them.
US issued a “provisional arrest warrant” request with HK last week on June 14, as a prelude to a more formal extradition request.
Except, there is 1 major problem with this “provisional arrest warrant” request: under standard treaties on such matters, a “provisional arrest warrant” request REQUIRES either a valid corresponding arrest warrant in the country of request (US in this case), or at least a declaration that such an arrest warrant exists.
See a US case on this subject: https://bulk.resource.org/courts.gov/c/F2/786/786.F2d.1395.85-6156.html
Under the Treaty, the extradition request must include an arrest warrant. Extradition Treaty, art. 11(3). In case of urgency, the Treaty permits the requesting country to seek the fugitive’s provisional arrest. Id. art. 12. A request for provisional arrest need only be accompanied by a declaration that an arrest warrant exists; it need not actually include a warrant. Id.
NOTE: It’s not a declaration that an arrest warrant will be obtained, but rather that the “arrest warrant” ALREADY exists at the time of the provisional arrest request.
US – HK Extradition Agreement:
Article 8(3) states that if the fugitive is a person who has not yet been convicted of the crime for which surrender is requested, the requesting Party must provide a copy of the arrest warrant, and “such evidence as, according to the law of the requested Party, would justify his committal for trial if the offense had been committed within the jurisdiction of the requested Party.” This is consistent with fundamental extradition jurisprudence in the United States, under which this language is interpreted to require countries seeking extradition from the U.S. to provide evidence establishing probable cause. 29 However, Hong Kong under its current law requires prima facie evidence of guilt in order to either extradite a fugitive, or to commit a case for trial in Hong Kong. During the negotiations, the Hong Kong delegation indicated that Hong Kong does not plan to change this evidentiary standard for either extradition, or committal for trial. Consequently, U.S. requests to Hong Kong for the surrender of fugitives will likely require prima facie evidence even after the Agreement enters into force, i.e., the same quantum of evidence we provide under the current extradition treaty.
\29\ Courts applying 18 U.S.C. Sec. 3184 have long required probable cause for international extradition. Restatement (Third) of the Foreign Relations Law of the United States, Section 476, comment b.
Unfortunately, for US, on June 14, when the “provisional arrest warrant” request was made to HK, Edward Snowden has NOT been indicted (charged) in US yet, hence, no formal arrest warrant in US.
Edward Snowden was finally publicly indicted in US on June 21, Friday, by a federal grand jury in Alexandria, Virginia.
In short, the “provisional arrest warrant” request from US was insufficient on June 14, because it was not accompanied by a corresponding US arrest warrant.
(In other words, HK cannot arrest someone for US, when US has not issued an arrest warrant domestically for that same person).
HK government hence asked US to supply additional information, i.e. the missing US arrest warrant for Snowden, and whether the charges are political in nature.
OOPS!! Big OOPS!!
*Although, TECHNICALLY, HK did not actually reject US’s request. The Provisional Arrest request was technically “under consideration”, pending additional documents. But in the mean time, if Snowden wanted to leave HK, there was no legal way to stop him. Afterall, an arrest warrant isn’t valid until it is approved.
And technically, HK didn’t hold up the processing of that request either, since US botch it with the missing documents.
The Rushed Screwup
No doubt someone decided to rush Snowden’s indictment in Alexandria Federal Court, a place previously known for “secret Grand Jury” for investigating Julian Assange, and also issued grand jury subpoena to members of the Bradley Manning Support Network (BMSN) and others in the Boston area. (A rather Pro-US government grand jury venue).
The US government (and its attorney machinery) finally managed to get the indictment, around evening time on Friday June 21, US, according to the timestamp of earliest news reports of this by Washington Post and AP.
By which time, it would have been Saturday morning in HK. Weekend. No courts in session. Government offices closed. OOPS!! Even if US wanted to, it’s doubtful they can call up anyone in HK government to process the US indictment to supplement the original “provisional arrest” request.
Around the same week, US government via the State Department, also revoked Edward Snowden’s US Passport, the hopes of restricting his travel. This is alleged by some anonymous US official, and cannot be verified at this point.
Wikileak Gets Wind of Screwup Early, Spots Screwup, Whisk Away Snowden to Russia
After June 14, Wikileak founder Julian Assange appeared to have already gotten wind of upcoming indictment of Snowden (which was filed on June 14 as well), and immediately sent his advisors working on the case.
Somewhere along the line, Assange’s people realized that there might have been a screwup with the provisional arrest request in HK, and decided along with Snowden to take a chance (risking exposing Snowden to actual arrest).
The timing was down to the last minutes proverbially. If they were wrong, Snowden could have been arrested by HK authority at the airport, or turned back and exposed Snowden’s location in HK.
Also, they had to get clearance from Russia and others to take Snowden, not an easy task, considering that Russia is no friend of Assange.
But Assange’s and Snowden’s gamble paid off. HK didn’t have a valid pending arrest request for Snowden under treaties, so they let him leave.
The Blames Fly
Unwilling to accept the blunders, US politicians and media personnel immediately went to work blaming everyone else.
Russia is blamed for taking Snowden in.
China is blamed for essentially letting HK let Snowden escape. Naturally, suspect China in having a hand in doing nothing to stop Snowden from leaving HK.
Some even suggested that HK should have detained Snowden, even if the provisional arrest request was invalid, because Snowden’s US passport was revoked.
Uh, point of international law.
HK has no obligation to stop people from LEAVING, just for an expired passport.
Airlines do generally check validity of passport. If someone has an invalid passport, the Airlines may be fined by destination country for allowing such persons to travel. HOWEVER, the destination country can choose to waive this requirement, and allow the person to travel, just as if such a person didn’t have a valid visa.
This suggestion itself is just plain ignorance of even the practices of US itself in handling political dissidents’ travels. Seriously, how many political refugees that end up in US have valid passports from their home countries??!
Russia, as the destination country, of course could decide to waive any requirement of a valid US passport for Snowden. And Snowden boarded an Aeroflot flight, a Russian airline (Yes, they could let him)!
ThanksGiving of Snowden
Right now, Edward Snowden has a lot to be thankful for, temporarily.
He definitely dodged a bullet there, escaping the reach of a US extradition, in the nick of time. (Even if the alternative is that such extradition might have been caught up in HK’s court for years, there were already pressure from US to force HK to expedite the process).
He should be thankful for Assange’s people, Russia, Ecuador, HK, and China, even if they all had probably their own ulterior motives, and perhaps didn’t do their best to help.
But really, Snowden should be thankful mostly for the usual inefficiency and incompetence of the US government and politicians in handling this matter.
Too many hands in the cookie jar. In the last 2 or so weeks, US politicians and officials were too eager to make not so veiled threats publicly against Snowden. For what? To grab limelight for themselves.
In doing so, they leaked critical information about what they were doing to catch Snowden, even before such actions were properly executed, forcing procedures to go ahead, when supporting documents were not yet done.
US politicians ultimately spooked Snowden and Assange. Snowden took a chance, because he was spooked, and his timing was lucky.
Seriously, if anyone should be prosecuted now, it should be all the US politicians who made statements that spooked Snowden.
If you can’t even keep secrets to go after 1 leaker, there is no such thing as Government secret, and you have nothing to blame Snowden on.
UK Guardian’s Greenwald implied the same couple of days ago. He tweeted
Anyone have interest in a criminal investigation to discover which “officials” leaked news of the sealed indictment?
Washington Post noted:
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.
Casting a Flimsy Net With “Invalid Passport”
On Sunday, US either actually revoked Snowden’s US passport or confirmed such revocation, or both.
US State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki, traveling with Secretary of State John Kerry in India, confirmed that the United States revoked Snowden’s passport due to “felony arrest warrants” against him.
A State Department official said the United States has been in contact with “countries in the Western Hemisphere through which Snowden might transit or that could serve as final destinations.”
“The US is advising these governments that Snowden is wanted on felony charges, and as such should not be allowed to proceed in any further international travel” unless he is being returned to the United States.
The irony of that self-serving and double talking and desperate statement is quite lost on the US government, as US currently hosts murders of “dissident”/asylee crows from all over the world, most of whom have no valid passports from their own home countries.
Does US ever hold up travels of Dalai Lama?
Does it just suck quite “Democratically”, when one’s own past precedents get in one’s way to stomping one’s own enemies of the state?!
The Global Vendetta Against One Man
I have said in the past, that the fact that China has “dissidents” is a proof that people are not that afraid of the Chinese government. In the worst case, the “dissidents” leave. Most of time, the Chinese government just consider them “persona non-grata”, and don’t bother with them any more.
But US and UK? If you p*ss them off, they are more than happy to render some Democratic rage unto you.
If all this spying/snooping stuff was righteous and legal by US and UK standards, then why go after Snowden for his different opinion? Afterall, isn’t he supposed to be the crazy nonrelevant high school dropout military wash out??! Why treat him so seriously, when US media and politicians keep denouncing him as not serious??
UK preemptively orders its airlines NOT to fly Snowden anywhere on UK territory.
US now instituting a full scaled global hunt for Snowden, and threatening pretty much all nations against helping Snowden in any way.
But come on, doesn’t that just make US and UK look foolish and impotent?
Snowden is not Bin Laden. He doesn’t have “organizations”, “networks”, or “cells” helping him. He’s just some IT geek with 4 laptops.
The fact that this IT geek with 4 laptops is causing US to blow steam out of its proverbial ears, is making US looking foolish and impotent globally.
Take a story out of China for comparison:
When “dissident” Chen Guangcheng wanted to leave China, China gave (and expedited) passports to him and his relatives for leaving. End of story. Enough said.
US Temper Tantrum
Why is US so mad?
UK’s Independent summed it up as:
They said they needed more information from the US Justice Department but did not give the US the courtesy of waiting for it to be provided. No wonder Mr Kerry was piqued.
Well, as some say in matters of law, you snooze you lose.
Snowden wasn’t going to wait for US to get the documents in order. He wanted to leave! Kinda of sneaky, but Justice waits for no man, especially not going to make someone else wait for it.