|Albert Ho suspects China hand in Snowden exit
A Hong Kong legislator revealed he had acted as Edward Snowden's lawyer, and said he suspected Beijing orchestrated the American’s departure from the city.
Snowden arrived in Moscow on Sunday and is expected to seek asylum in Ecuador.
Albert Ho, a pro-democracy lawmaker, said Snowden received a message several days ago from a figure who advised him to leave and said he would be given safe passage, AFP reports.
“Someone who claimed to represent the government... notified him through a middleman,'' he said, adding that the figure did not indicate whether he represented Hong Kong or Beijing.
“I have reasons to believe that... those who wanted him to leave represented Beijing authorities,'' Ho said, adding that Hong Kong officials he contacted were unable to tell him anything about the offer.
“The Hong Kong government has no power to decide or say anything whatsoever, not even the power to notify me [about an official stance],'' said Ho, the former chairman of the Democratic Party.
“Bejing would not step forward to the front stage because it will affect Sino-US relations. So, it would operate behind the scenes to make Snowden go. The Hong Kong government may not have had any role other than not stopping him at the airport.''
Ho, who assigned lawyers from his firm to escort Snowden to the airport, said they reported plainclothes officers shadowed him as he departed for Moscow.
Hong Kong officials have said the documentation supporting the arrest warrant was incomplete. US authorities denied there was anything missing and said Hong Kong's failure to act was “troubling''.
US Senate Intelligence Committee chairwoman Dianne Feinstein said the move came as a “very big surprise.’’
“China clearly had a role in this, in my view. I don't think this was just Hong Kong without Chinese acquiescence, she said on CBS “Face the Nation'' program.
Ecuador Foreign Minister Ricardo Patino referring to the asylum request by Snowden, said in Hanoi: “We will make a decision... we are analyzing it.
“It [the request] has to do with freedom of expression and the security of citizens around the world.
“We always act by principle not in our own interest. There are some governments