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The Rosett Report

Hiding Out in Hong Kong; How Do You Do That?

June 13th, 2013 - 7:02 pm

But surely if you just keep your head down in your windowless room, and find someone to bring in the groceries? Not so safe, I’d wager. Hong Kong is a big port city, but in some ways it is also a small town. People talk, they gossip, they see what the neighbors are doing. For someone not foreign, not American and whose face and deeds have not been splashed all over the TV, internet and newspapers, maybe Hong Kong is a place to disappear. But in this case?

How about the outlying islands? Less densely populated, out of the main traffic, still home to hiking trails and out-of-the-way villages and bungalows? For a gweilo, especially one who has just put Hong Kong on the current news-cycle map, the same old distinctions apply. A new foreigner arrives in the village, or on the outskirts? Presumably Snowden speaks no Cantonese. Surely the locals would notice? (Actually, in the unlikely event that he does speak Cantonese, which is famously difficult for foreigners to master, he would likely stand out even more.)

As for slipping out of Hong Kong unnoticed, that’s hugely unlikely, at least by any conventional form of transportation or port of egress. To leave by way of the airport, the land border crossing into China, or by ferry to Macau or up the Pearl River — these all involve presenting yourself, along with your documents, to the authorities. And to leave by less conventional routes — say, a smuggler’s boat — would surely require finding or activating connections that would likely entail their own high risks of attracting official attention.

There are plenty of theories swirling around — that Snowden goofed and picked a bad place to try to hide; or that he could not expect to hide out in Hong Kong without the help of the Chinese authorities; or that he has some plan based on hopes of intricate legal footwork; or maybe he is simply prepared to be found and perhaps, ultimately, extradited. We simply do not know enough of the facts right now to do more than guess.

But hiding out in Hong Kong? Maybe I’m missing something. Perhaps it is possible for an Edward Snowden to don sunglasses and a wig, check into a Lan Kwai Fong hotel and go shopping in Central without anyone taking a second look. But I doubt it. If, as reported, he has genuinely dropped out of sight (apart from the interviews), how on earth is he doing it? Paging Eric Ambler…

(Thumbnail on PJM homepage based on a modified Shutterstock.com image.)

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Top Rated Comments   
Snowden isn't, certainly shouldn't be, the issue here. When a government becomes so overbearing that it sets to spying on it's own people like they were all subjects, if not criminals, it is not doing so on their behalf. The Stasi wasn't in East German and the NSA isn't in America.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
More than mysterious...indeed.
However, Americans dare not miss the forest from the trees. For whether he is a hero or a traitor, that is a question which can be debated, but is the least intrinsic one.
The fact of the matter is that America is turning into a police/surveillance state and that is unacceptable. Wildly dangerous too.
Consider: how is Obama's (vision for) America much different than Germany's in the run up to WW2? - http://adinakutnicki.com/2013/06/09/a-political-dissidents-list-dhs-insider-confirms-the-true-intent-of-nsas-spying-commentary-by-adina-kutnicki/
Besides, the NSA FAILED to thwart 9/11/01, even though they had the communications from Osama's safe house in Yemen, all the way to the plotters in US cities throughout the country. One of the cities included NSA's headquarters! In effect, they were hiding in plain sight, yet all the spying didn't stop them! What about Boston's jihad?? You get the point...so, targeted spying is efficacious, but a TOTAL sweep of American citizens, completely non American and useless - except for nefarious purposes.

Adina Kutnicki, Israel http://adinakutnicki.com/about/


1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
If there were justice in the world Snowden would be living in the White House and Obama would be in hiding.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
All Comments   (16)
All Comments   (16)
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Because Snowden defected to the Chinese? The Chinese are protecting him? (Snowden has already assisted the Chinese in claiming that the *real* hackers are Americans -- as I spit). (IMO given so little of what we know -- Snowden may have as much "love" for America as Obozo.)
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
What Claudia Rosett has written here is absolutely true. Every word, the overall tone is accurate. No place for a "foreigner" to hide.

When I lived there (1961-1967, in a small one bedroom flat on top floor of a three story detached house [!] in Kowloon Tong) I thought the Colony was claustrophobic and went out to the Repulse Bay Hotel, now long demolished as space is at such a premium, on weekdays to try to find some quiet away from the crowds, and the incessant noise of construction sites and the enormously powerful pile drivers shaking the earth all around in Kowloon.

At the time it was thought that the population was about six million, no one really knew....how could they?...this was the height of the refugee era.

I never returned. When I look now at those "glamourous" pictures of the HK side of the harbor at night, I think.....good grief!....they must be standing now on each others' shoulders in Central. You can barely make out the ridge line of the Peak because of the highrises. Terrible congestion, literally unbelievable, must be felt to be believed. Merely "seeing" isn't enough of an impact. [Hence, the many, many subdivided, windowless flats. Chungking Mansions in Tsimshatsui must be an absolute zoo right now, if it's still there.]

None of that during the 'sixties. The highest building then was the Bank of China, and then the Hong Kong Hilton was built, on slightly higher ground. One-up-man-ship was vital in Hong Kong, no doubt still is with "face" the sole determinant of status.....and just about everything else.

The hilarious part of the official grand opening of the HK Hilton was that the British flag was flown upside down on the rooftop flagpole, right there, for all of the Colony to see. I can't remember how long it was before some hapless Ameddican employee noticed; the Chinese with their wicked sense of humor wouldn't have told a soul.

Thanks for the memories, Claudia Rosett!

------It's my guess that Snowden is holed up with an American sympathizer expat over on Lantau or other outer island......but there even more conspicuous because of his looks, or rent paid by the left-wing Guardian and/or the Washington Post. He's going to need cash, lots and lots of cash.

I hope the smug, self centered, a**hole gets his fill of expat isolation...taking it upon himself to "set the record straight".

Aiiiyeeeaahh! Tsk tsk Tsk!
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
He said he didn't want to hide, but to be not silenced.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Well I thought the choice of Hong Kong peculiar too, but because he doesn't obviously present like an idiot I think he may know things I don't know being in the business and all. Likewise he does not appear to be as narcissistic as Assange or as motivated by anti Americanism. Rightly or wrongly he appears to believe what he is doing is patriotic. In a similar vein he does not appear to be like a Kim Philby who was working for the communists all along. Yet, his choice of Hong Kong might easily just be a way to mask true motive. Or a dumb mistake given that I think it would be easier for the Chinese secret police to find him than all of Obama's horses and all of his men. ;-)
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Could have caught the boat to Macau. Maybe he was not in Hong Kong when he made the video. Maybe he is staying w/ Greenwalds hot-n-hunky brazilian lover down in Sao Paulo.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Snowden isn't, certainly shouldn't be, the issue here. When a government becomes so overbearing that it sets to spying on it's own people like they were all subjects, if not criminals, it is not doing so on their behalf. The Stasi wasn't in East German and the NSA isn't in America.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
MEEEEEooooooooWWWWWW! Hissss!
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
More than mysterious...indeed.
However, Americans dare not miss the forest from the trees. For whether he is a hero or a traitor, that is a question which can be debated, but is the least intrinsic one.
The fact of the matter is that America is turning into a police/surveillance state and that is unacceptable. Wildly dangerous too.
Consider: how is Obama's (vision for) America much different than Germany's in the run up to WW2? - http://adinakutnicki.com/2013/06/09/a-political-dissidents-list-dhs-insider-confirms-the-true-intent-of-nsas-spying-commentary-by-adina-kutnicki/
Besides, the NSA FAILED to thwart 9/11/01, even though they had the communications from Osama's safe house in Yemen, all the way to the plotters in US cities throughout the country. One of the cities included NSA's headquarters! In effect, they were hiding in plain sight, yet all the spying didn't stop them! What about Boston's jihad?? You get the point...so, targeted spying is efficacious, but a TOTAL sweep of American citizens, completely non American and useless - except for nefarious purposes.

Adina Kutnicki, Israel http://adinakutnicki.com/about/


1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
WHile I don't disagree with your analysis, still the more important point is this:


Useless or very useful, the danger of such a program dictates that it simply cannot be allowed.

We must not allow ourselves to get sidetracked into a discussion of how effective this program is at fighting terrorists or any other variety of threat.

1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
I thought it was a truism of how to hide out to always go to the big city because in desperation for their own privacy neighbors can live next door to each othe for twenty years and never learn each others' names none so blind as those who will not see, whereas out in the country for lack of excitement everyone pries into everyone else's business.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment

There is much more to Hong Kong than Kowloon or Hong Kong Island. It is very easy blending into Hong Kong if you know where to go.
Billionaires, politicians, celebrities, business leaders, pop in and out never being photographed or seen, following in their footsteps would be pretty easy.
Especially if you have access to the worlds most comprehensive database.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
I guess you've been to Hong Kong, too. But surely you've noticed that the regulars--the waiters, vendors, shopkeepers, cab drivers, clerks, security guards, front desk ladies, etc--know who's coming and going.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
If there were justice in the world Snowden would be living in the White House and Obama would be in hiding.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment

No, if justice ruled the world Obama would be swinging by his neck as a convicted traitor, alongside most of his cronies.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
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