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The PJ Tatler

Snowden Charged with Espionage

Will he ever return?

by
Rick Moran

Bio

June 22, 2013 - 6:20 am
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Edward Snowden, the man responsible for leaking top-secret details of NSA surveillance programs, has been charged with espionage and theft of government property, according to an indictment unsealed by the Justice Department yesterday.

The Washington Post reports:

There was never any doubt that the Justice Department would seek to prosecute Snowden for one of the most significant national security leaks in the country’s history. The Obama administration has shown a particular propensity to go after leakers and has launched more investigations than any previous administration. This White House is responsible for bringing six of the nine total indictments ever brought under the 1917 Espionage Act. Snowden will be the seventh individual when he is formally indicted.

Justice Department officials had already said that a criminal investigation of Snowden was underway and was being run out of the FBI’s Washington field office in conjunction with lawyers from the department’s National Security Division.

By filing a criminal complaint, prosecutors have a legal basis to make the detention request of the authorities in Hong Kong. Prosecutors now have 60 days to file an indictment, probably under seal, and can then move to have Snowden extradited from Hong Kong for trial in the United States.

Snowden, however, can fight the extradition effort in the courts in Hong Kong. Any battle is likely to reach Hong Kong’s highest court and could last many months, lawyers in the United States and Hong Kong said.

The United States has an extradition treaty with Hong Kong, and U.S. officials said cooperation with the Chinese territory, which enjoys some autonomy from Beijing, has been good in previous cases.

The treaty, however, has an exception for political offenses, and espionage has traditionally been treated as a political offense. Snowden’s defense team in Hong Kong is likely to invoke part of the extradition treaty with the United States, which states that suspects will not be turned over to face criminal trial for offenses of a “political character.”

Typically in such cases, Hong Kong’s chief executive must first decide whether to issue a warrant for the accused’s arrest. But the extradition treaty also says that in exceptional cases a provisional warrant can be issued by a Hong Kong judge without the chief executive’s approval. The judge must give the chief executive notice, however, that he has issued the warrant.

Sounds like the legal maneuvering is well underway. Snowden’s act can easily be seen as “political,” but it’s unclear if he can make a successful legal argument that it is. And there is a political element to the extradition itself. Failing to send Snowden back is going to make the U.S. government very unhappy. Will the possibility of U.S. retaliation against China or Hong Kong play a role in the judge’s decision?

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All Comments   (21)
All Comments   (21)
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Who is not snooping, spying? The casanova Obama is the king of it.
42 weeks ago
42 weeks ago Link To Comment
Well, my impression of Snowdon is that he has to have thought it out beforehand and his Choice of HK tells me that his less than obvious choice is probably based on information that I certainly don't have. I thought the comment that he may have already gone somewhere else is interesting. That could certainly been part of his plan. The other issue that seems important at this point is he says he has more. And I can't imagine him not setting up a system whereby if he is killed or detained the information just automatically posts onto the Internet - a deadman switch insurance policy. I appreciate that he may not have thought of the emotional consequences of never being able to come home but he has spoken of the possibility of being killed or rendered. Yes, indeed - popcorn time.
42 weeks ago
42 weeks ago Link To Comment
"Will the possibility of U.S. retaliation against China or Hong Kong play a role in the judge’s decision?"

Are you really that naive? The short answer is no. What the Chinese and Russians have known for a long time, that the current regime in DC is not trustworthy is now known worldwide.

Like most modern computer networks route around trouble, the world network will route around the US. So many thought the Black Swan that would signal the downfall of the US would come from outside but it is now apparent to all as it was to many of us - "We have met the enemy and he is us."
42 weeks ago
42 weeks ago Link To Comment
http://www.popsci.com/technology/article/2013-06/actually-us-could-totally-kill-edward-snowden-drone-strike
"The Switchblade is a one-use drone, ... it can take out an individual, or a truck."
Did they rehearse on Hastings? The FBI admitted using drones inside the country, AG Holder refused to rule out drone strike. Just love those legal technicalities.
42 weeks ago
42 weeks ago Link To Comment
Heh, heh, heh..."Discovery".....what an ironic term here.
42 weeks ago
42 weeks ago Link To Comment
This was intended as a reply to:

"M. Report " ...I clicked the wrong block.
42 weeks ago
42 weeks ago Link To Comment
Dear Readers,


On top of all else, there's an enormous "Face' situation looming here in the steamy murk of the S.A.R., "Face" with an upper-case "F".

There's also a certain deliciousness in that it's a safe bet that the lawyers in both in Hong Kong and in Beijing are pretty much in unison now with their cursing of our own Ed Snowden right smack their midst simultaneously in both of their jurisdictions; and both the lawyer set in Beijing and the lawyer set in the S.A.R. wanting desperately to avoid responsibility for a diplomatic bruhaha [aside from the tangled legal brouhaha] between China and the United States over this troublesome foreigner when there is so much else pending on smoking plates on the table.

Each side wants the other to take the case and prolong it for evah.

Aiyeeeaahh!

Amah!....Popcorn, please!
42 weeks ago
42 weeks ago Link To Comment
With this administration, if you reveal questionable acts done by them, you do it at great personal risk. It looks like the emperor's new clothes turned into a clown suit and he doesn't like that.
42 weeks ago
42 weeks ago Link To Comment
His play may well be to stay in and around China on the basis that China has the power to stand up to the US. Obama has no explicit reason to press the issue too hard... the damage is done, now all that's in the cards is revenge. Is revenge worth war with China? Prudence would say no. More importantly, since Obama doesn't have much prudence, his cowardice would say no (one rare occasion where that would be to the good, for a change). And by the same token, China may see a relatively low-risk way of expanding its perceived political influence by asking what the United States plans to do if they don't hand over Snowden. That's a bet on Chinese self-interest... and not necessarily a poor one.

HOWEVER, by the same token, that's a risky calculation. China may not want to turn Snowden over, but they might well want Snowden for themselves. He's painted a huge target on his back, and it has "I know lots of secrets" written in bold san-serif font on it. They might try to catch him just to see if he knows anything else. And... because the Obama administration might also be uncertain what he knows, Snowden runs the risk that the US wants him in custody worse than he thinks. China might be persuadable in a closed-door deal... gain some pressing concession or other from the US with their newly acquired bargaining chip, and hand over Snowden. How much they play up the concession would depend on circumstance and whether they value the appearance of power or cooperation more at this moment.

I'm still betting on power... but I wouldn't bet my life.
42 weeks ago
42 weeks ago Link To Comment
I seriously doubt that he's in Hong Kong any longer.
42 weeks ago
42 weeks ago Link To Comment
......also, wonder who's paying his bills?
42 weeks ago
42 weeks ago Link To Comment
so what charges were filed in the O leaks of earlier this year and last? What crime is worse...revealing a secret unconstitutional program, or lying under oath, multiple times? Having a hard time understanding the rules of the game here...
42 weeks ago
42 weeks ago Link To Comment
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