China on Tuesday hit out at suggestions from U.S. officials that it had deliberately allowed and enabled former Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) employee Edward Snowden to evade arrest,describing the accusations as “groundless”.
A day after U.S. officials said they rejected the Hong Kong Government’s argument that they had not provided sufficient legal basis for arresting the whistleblower, the Chinese Central Government mounted a strong defense of its Special Administrative Region's (SAR) handling of the case.
“The Hong Kong SAR Government handled the relevant case totally in accordance with law, and all parties should respect that,” Foreign Ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying said, adding that it was “unreasonable for the U.S." to question Hong Kong.
The SAR Government, in a statement, indicated that its decision to allow Mr. Snowden’s departure was a technical one, citing insufficient documentation from the U.S. to make a case for arresting Mr. Snowden under the espionage act.
Some lawmakers in Hong Kong have suggested that Beijing, which determines Hong Kong’s foreign policy but allows the SAR some autonomy including an independent judiciary, may have influenced the outcome
quietly. Chinese officials were thought to have been concerned at the prospect of a prolonged stay by Mr. Snowden in Hong Kong, taking the view that a long drawn-out tussle with Washington would have been detrimental to overall ties.
Ms. Hua and Chinese officials have, however, remained silent on whether Beijing had played any role in deciding Mr. Snowden’s fate, only saying they respected the SAR Ggovernment’s decision under the “one country, two systems” model.
On Tuesday, Ms. Hua also hit out at comments from some U.S. officials, including remarks made by Secretary of State John Kerry in New Delhi on Monday, suggesting that Mr. Snowden's decision to flee to Chinese territory and Russia was "ironic" considering the two countries’ records on issues such as press freedom.
“It is surprising that up to this day, people from the U.S. are still making these remarks,” Ms. Hua said. “We advise them to look themselves in the mirror, and focus on their own business”.