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Beijing may have been involved in barring Hong Kong from handing U.S. whistle-blower Edward Snowden over to the United States, his Hong Kong lawyer said Monday.
The 30-year-old Snowden, who arrived in Hong Kong last month after revealing U.S. Internet and phone surveillance, left Sunday for Moscow after the U.S. government asked for Hong Kong's assistance in arresting him.
In New Delhi, visiting U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said it would be "very disappointing" if Russia does not hand Snowden over to the United States.
Noting that the United States has extradited seven Russian criminals back to Russia, Kerry said Moscow should reciprocate and help U.S. law-enforcement authorities over Snowden.
Albert Ho, a Democrat legislator who said he represented Snowden during his last days in Hong Kong, told reporters on Monday, "I have reasons to believe that (Snowden leaving Hong Kong) was decided by Beijing and Hong Kong has no authority over it."
Later in the day, Hong Kong Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying said, "Hong Kong needs to communicate with the (Beijing) central government on all diplomatic issues" when asked about Beijing's role in Snowden's departure, without acknowledging whether Beijing had called the shots.
Ho said it is likely a middleman with connections in Beijing contacted Snowden, because the Hong Kong government has all along declined to respond to Snowden's requests, including freedom to leave without arrest.
"The Hong Kong government might have no role to play, was not authorized to speak or even simply notify me about anything, except to take orders not to intercept Snowden at the airport," he said.
"On Thursday night, the U.S. notified Hong Kong regarding a request for extradition, and Snowden had wanted to leave. Soon after, some individuals claiming to represent the government -- I can't say representing Hong Kong or the Beijing government -- had told Snowden via a middleman that he could leave safely," Ho said, declining to identify the government officials.
"I have no proof, but from the extremely intricate way the Hong Kong government has acted, I believe it was Beijing who made the calls behind the scene," he said.
Hong Kong has signed an extradition treaty with the United States, but the government said it did not arrest Snowden due to insufficient information from Washington.
"As a result of Mr. Snowden's departure from Hong Kong to a third country, there have been expressions of displeasure on the part of some quarters of the United States," Leung said.
"We were asking the United States government for further important information on the case. There was no legal basis to stop Mr. Snowden from leaving Hong Kong," he said.
Ecuador's Foreign Minister Ricardo Patino said on the Twitter social network that Snowden has asked for asylum, adding, "Once Mr. Snowden arrives in Ecuador his request will be formally processed."
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