Edward Snowden, the former U.S. intelligence technician who left his home country for Hong Kong after exposing large-scale electronic surveillance programs by the U.S. government, says he chose to stay in China's special administrative region for its rule of law, the South China Morning Post said in its website posted late Wednesday.
Snowden said in an exclusive interview with the city's largest English-language newspaper that he has confidence in the former British colony's judicial system.
"People who think I made a mistake in picking Hong Kong as a location misunderstand my intentions. I am not here to hide from justice; I am here to reveal criminality," he said. Hong Kong has an extradition treaty with the United States.
"I have had many opportunities to flee (Hong Kong), but I would rather stay and fight the United States government in the courts, because I have faith in Hong Kong's rule of law," he said. "My intention is to ask the courts and people of Hong Kong to decide my fate."
Hong Kong's leader Leung Chun-ying, who is visiting the United States on an official trip, said he will not comment on individual cases when asked whether U.S. officials have talked to him about Snowden.
Snowden told the daily he plans to stay in Hong Kong until he is "asked to leave."
Rights advocate groups are planning a march in Hong Kong Saturday to support Snowden and condemn what they see as the U.S. government's privacy infringement through the surveillance programs.