Empty seat where reporters expected to find Edward Snowden on a flight to Cuba
For Edward J. Snowden, the former National Security Agency contractor who has acknowledged leaking numerous documents about American surveillance operations around the world, the path to a sudden departure from Hong Kong late Sunday began over a dinner days before of a large pizza, fried chicken and sausages, washed down with Pepsi.
Albert Ho, one of Mr. Snowden’s lawyers, said that before the Tuesday night dinner began, Mr. Snowden insisted that everyone hide their cellphones in the refrigerator of the home where he was staying, to block any eavesdropping. Then began a two-hour conversation during which Mr. Snowden was deeply dismayed to learn that he could spend years in prison without access to a computer during litigation over whether he would be granted asylum here or surrendered to the United States, Mr. Ho said…
The outcome of that meeting, Mr. Ho said, was a decision by Mr. Snowden to have Mr. Ho pose two questions to the Hong Kong government: would he be released on bail if he were detained in Hong Kong at the request of the United States, and would the Hong Kong government interfere if Mr. Snowden tried to go to the airport and leave Hong Kong instead.
A person with detailed knowledge of the Hong Kong government’s deliberations said that the government had been delighted to receive the questions. Leung Chun-ying, the chief executive, and his top advisers had been struggling through numerous meetings for days, canceling or postponing most other meetings, while trying to decide what to do in response to an American request for Mr. Snowden’s detention, even as public opinion in Hong Kong seemed to favor protecting the fugitive…
The intermediary told Mr. Snowden Friday night that the government could not predict what Hong Kong’s independent judiciary would do, but that serving jail time while awaiting trial was a possibility. The intermediary also said that the Hong Kong government would welcome Mr. Snowden’s departure, Mr. Ho and the person who insisted on anonymity said. Both declined to identify the intermediary.
The Hong Kong government said that it would not interfere with Mr. Snowden’s departure.
We know the rest up to today. His planned exit from Moscow to Cuba and Ecuador. But, his seat on the plane he was scheduled for – was empty.
Regardless, the details of decision-making in Hong Kong are fascinating – and put the lie to the Cold War bluster of politicians and pundits and obedient newspapers around the country. Even though this article comes from reporters on the scene, the NY TIMES also published one of their butt-kissing specials that “analyzes” the control that China must have had over the whole situation.
Read through all of this article. Interesting chronology pretty much free of agitprop.