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Press Release

Justice Department Statement on the Request to Hong Kong for Edward Snowden’s Provisional Arrest

For Immediate Release
Office of Public Affairs

“The U.S. is disappointed and disagrees with the determination by Hong Kong authorities not to honor the U.S. request for the arrest of the fugitive, Edward J. Snowden.

“The request for the fugitive’s arrest for purposes of his extradition complied with all of the requirements of the US/Hong Kong Surrender Agreement.  At no point, in all of our discussions through Friday, did the authorities in Hong Kong raise any issues regarding the sufficiency of the U.S.'s provisional arrest request. In light of this, we find their decision to be particularly troubling.

“Throughout this event, U.S. Department of Justice authorities have been in continual contact with their Hong Kong counterparts starting on June 10, 2013 when we learned that Snowden was in Hong Kong.

“We have had repeated communications with our Hong Kong counterparts at senior levels.

“Attorney General Eric Holder placed a phone call on June 19th EDT, with his counterpart, Hong Kong Secretary for Justice Rimsky Yuen, stressing the importance of the matter and urging Hong Kong to honor our request for Snowden’s arrest.

“There have been repeated engagements by the U.S. Department of State and U.S. Consulate General in Hong Kong.

“There have been repeated engagements by the FBI with their law enforcement counterparts.

“And finally, there have been continual communications by the Criminal Division’s Office of International Affairs with counterparts at HKSAR’s Department of Justice, International Law Division and Mutual Legal Assistance Unit.”


• On June 14, 2013, the fugitive, Edward J. Snowden, was charged by complaint in the ED VA with violations of:

                o 18 U.S.C. § 793(d) (Unauthorized Disclosure of National Defense Information);
                o 18 U.S.C. § 798(a)(3) (Unauthorized Disclosure of Classified Communication
                   Intelligence); and
                o 18 U.S.C. § 641 (Theft of Government Property).

• On that same date, a warrant was issued for his arrest.

• On June 15, 2013, the United States requested pursuant to the US/HK Surrender Agreement that HKSAR authorities provisionally arrest the fugitive for purposes of extradition.

• The U.S. request complied with all aspects of the treaty in force between the United States and the HKSAR – containing all documents and information required for HKSAR to provisionally arrest Snowden.

• June 17, 2013, Hong Kong authorities acknowledged receipt of our request. Despite repeated inquiries, Hong Kong authorities did not respond with any requests for additional information or documents, stating only that the matter was “under review” and refusing to elaborate;

• On June 21, 2013, Hong Kong authorities requested additional information concerning the U.S. charges and evidence.  The U.S. had been in communication with the Hong Kong authorities about their inquiries.

• U.S. authorities were in the process of responding to the request when we learned that Hong Kong authorities had allowed the fugitive to leave Hong Kong.

• On June 23, 2013, Hong Kong authorities notified the U.S. that they had found our request insufficient and had allowed the fugitive to leave Hong Kong without acting on or request.

Updated September 15, 2014

Press Release Number: 13-761