NSA whistleblower/leaker Edward Snowden's decision to leave Hong Kong after he learned he could spend years in prison without access to a computer during the process to determine his asylum in Hong Kong or extradition to the U.S., Keith Bradsher of The New York Times reports.
“If you were to deprive him of his computer, that would be totally intolerable," Albert Ho, one of Snowden's lawyers, told the Times.
Through an intermediary, the Hong Kong government told Ho that it would not interfere with Snowden’s departure, and "even provided unobtrusive police protection for him as he went through the airport," Bradsher writes, citing Ho and a source knowledgeable with the deliberations.
Other reports indicate that Hong Kong, in constant consultation with the Chinese government, did not "step forward to the front stage because it would affect Sino-U.S. relations," and decided that the headache wasn't worth it.
Bradsher notes that the Hong Kong's hesitation to directly speak with Snowden's camp and its encouragement that he leave indicated to Snowden that Hong Kong wasn't completely on his side.
“He would not like to fight with the Hong Kong government, with the Chinese government, and the U.S. government” against him, Mr. Ho said.
Numerous members of the U.S. government expressed anger that Hong Kong let Mr. Snowden get away.
Bradsher's report is so detailed that he notes that Snowden's " path to a sudden departure from Hong Kong late Sunday morning began over a dinner last Tuesday of a large pizza, fried chicken and sausages, washed down with Pepsi. "
Ho, who is based in Hong Kong, added that Snowden arrived in Hong Kong without a well thought-out plan, and overestimated how free he would be to move around the city.
“He’s a kid, I really think he’s a kid, I think he never anticipated this would be such a big matter in Hong Kong,” Mr. Ho said. “He enjoys Pepsi, he prefers Pepsi to wine, that’s why I say he’s a kid.”
Snowden is currently on the run.
Almost no one knows where he is at the moment.
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