First Hong Kong, Now Russia Refuses To Intervene On Snowden

In keeping with fine Christian values, after Hong Kong slapped the US on one cheek yesterday when it allowed a passportless Snowden to leave the country for Moscow, the US has now turned the other cheek. And RUssia's Vladimir Putin was happy to oblige with a perfectly placed uppercut. As the WSJ reports, the Kremlin said Monday that it won't intervene in the case of former U.S. government contractor Edward Snowden and that Russia had no advance knowledge of his arrival from Hong Kong on Sunday. President Vladimir Putin's spokesman Dmitry Peskov said that a decision about holding Mr. Snowden and sending him back to the U.S. to face charges wasn't a matter for the Kremlin."Snowden did nothing illegal in Russia. There are also no orders for his arrest through Interpol to Russian law enforcement agencies," an unnamed security official told the RIA-Novosti news agency." Of course, the NSA which is actively intercepting every Russian (and global) form of communication, knew all about this long ago...


"It is not a question for us," Mr. Peskov told The Wall Street Journal. "We don't know what his plans are and we were unaware he was coming here."


Russian state media, citing an official in the government's security apparatus, said authorities have no legal grounds to detain and send Mr. Snowden back to the U.S.


On Friday, the U.S. unsealed an indictment charging Mr. Snowden with espionage and had requested Hong Kong officials arrest him and prepare for extradition proceedings.


But his surprise departure from the former British colony, now a special administrative region of China, set off a diplomatic scramble. On Monday, the White House said it expected Russia to "look at all options available" to expel Mr. Snowden to face charges in the U.S.


"Given our intensified cooperation after the Boston Marathon bombings and our history of working with Russia on law enforcement matters—including returning numerous high-level criminals back to Russia at the request of the Russian government—we expect the Russian government to look at all options available to expel Mr. Snowden back to the U.S. to face justice for the crimes with which he is charged," said Caitlin Hayden, a spokeswoman for the White House's National Security Council.

And just hitting the tape, is the SCMP with the aptly named, "China outsmarted US in Snowden affair, experts say"

China interceded to allow Edward Snowden’s dramatic flight from Hong Kong, calculating that infuriating the United States for now was necessary to prevent deeper corrosion to their relationship, analysts and media said on Monday.


Beijing also exploited the former spy’s revelations to put the US government on the back foot. State media called Washington a “villain” for its alleged hacking of Chinese targets, when the United States has long portrayed itself as a victim of Chinese cyber-espionage.


The Hong Kong government insisted that its decision to let the 30-year-old Snowden fly out on Sunday was governed strictly by the law, after a provisional US arrest warrant purportedly failed to meet its judicial requirements.


But for many observers, such a high-profile case - carrying the potential to destabilise Sino-US ties for years if Snowden had fought a lengthy legal battle in Hong Kong - must have provoked intense interest among the territory’s overseers.


Hong Kong political analyst Johnny Lau said he believed that Chinese representatives “must have drained him in depth and exhausted him (for intelligence) before letting him go”.


As for Hong Kong’s role, Lau argued that the local government was a pawn with Beijing guiding the pieces.


“Hong Kong is just part of a chess game. It was the same when it was part of Britain,” he told AFP.


Such speculation took an intriguing twist on Monday with Albert Ho, one of Hong Kong’s most respected pro-democracy lawmakers, revealing that he had been hired as Snowden’s lawyer and that he had relayed a message from a mystery intermediary several days ago.


The intermediary did not specify whether he represented the government in Beijing or Hong Kong, but Ho said: “I have reasons to believe that... those who wanted him to leave represented Beijing authorities.


“Bejing would not step forward to the front stage because it (would) affect Sino-US relations,” he told reporters.

Next up: Havana, and finally Ecuador, where absent a highly-targeted, Tom Clancy-inspired "extraction", Snowden is likely to remain for a long time even if it means disclosing NSA secrets to the media for an even longer time.