Snowden, ‘Snowed-In’ in Hong Kong?
I'm kind of happy Edward Snowden popped onto the radar here.
Nothing else is going on. The weather's been stormy, dreary and grey. The stock market has been heading down for over a month. The government has pretty much snuffed out the property market with unbearable new taxes. Worst of all, the rubbery ducky left.
I'm glad Ed's here because I didn't realize how off the map Hong Kong was to the rest of the world until the NSA whistleblower case erupted.
(Read More: Hong Kong Rally Demands Protection for Snowden)
I cringed the other day when half-watching a U.S. network talk show. The hosts droned on about how Snowden had sold out America and handed the U.S. to the Red Chinese, then went on about how he gave an interview to the South China Morning Post, which of course, is a loud Chinese mouthpiece.
Of course, a lot of folks here have gone off the rocker with it all. A demonstration last weekend saw hundreds protest in support of Snowden, and against privacy and liberties violations, although their expertise with American surveillance and security legal specifics was probably questionable.
Turns out, Ed might be a resident of Hong Kong for some time to come. Former Secretary for Security and now elected legislator Regina Ip told me on CNBC's "The Call" Monday that existing legislation and bilateral agreements allow people to go to the courts for protection. He could seek asylum, go to the UN office in Hong Kong or to the Immigration Department; and asylum cases can take years. A recent case involving Congo citizens claiming asylum has been going on since 2004.
Snowden says he will fight any U.S. extradition attempt. I hope he's got financial help lined up. Hong Kong's an expensive place to live in. If his case drags out he's going to be a drag on the public purse, at enormous cost to the taxpayer. In a place where we don't have government-run stealth surveillance programs, or even agencies on par with the FBI, CIA or NSA, it's all a bit surreal for us to absorb.
(Read More: Hail Edward Snowden, Public Servant: Economist)
But we do have rule of law in the end, and protections in place for people like him. In the meantime, I hope Ed comes out of hiding and has a little fun this summer. It gets so hot and sweltering, it'd be a terrible thought a young man would be in hiding the whole time, when there's Lan Kwai Fong, SoHo, and so many fun places to be.
Ed, don't worry, I think you're safe just enjoying Hong Kong. I doubt Mr. Obama is going to send drones here.