WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The U.S. Justice Department said on Sunday it was disappointed with Hong Kong’s decision not to arrest former National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden, who is accused of divulging secrets about U.S. surveillance programs. The Hong Kong government said the U.S. extradition requests were insufficient.
Below is the timeline of communication between the United States and Hong Kong before Snowden fled the Chinese territory for Russia, based on Reuters reports and official U.S. accounts.
June 5 - Britain’s Guardian newspaper publishes a secret court order that shows the NSA collecting millions of U.S. telephone records.
June 6 - The Washington Post reports on the classified anti-terrorism program that involves the NSA and the FBI tapping into the servers of American Internet companies.
June 9 - The Guardian and the Post identify Snowden as source of the leaks.
June 10 - U.S. Department of Justice officials learn Snowden is in Hong Kong and start communicating with counterparts there.
June 14 - U.S. authorities, in a sealed criminal complaint, charge Snowden with theft of U.S. government property, unauthorized communication of national defense information and wilfull communication of classified communications intelligence to an unauthorized person, with the latter two charges falling under the Espionage Act. A warrant is issued for his arrest.
June 15 - The United States asks Hong Kong, under their extradition agreement, to provisionally arrest Snowden so that he can be sent back to the United States.
June 17 - Hong Kong authorities acknowledge receipt of the U.S. request, said only that the matter was “under review.”
The FBI, the State Department and the Justice Department worked with their Hong Kong counterparts during the process.
June 19 - U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder called Hong Kong Secretary for Justice Rimsky Yuen. According to a Justice Department official, Holder stressed the importance of the case and urged Hong Kong to honor the request for Snowden’s arrest.
June 21 - Hong Kong authorities ask for more information about U.S. charges and evidence against Snowden. U.S. authorities were in the process of responding when they learned that Snowden had been allowed to leave Hong Kong.
June 23 - Hong Kong authorities notify the United States that they had found the extradition request insufficient and had allowed Snowden to leave.
The United States was disappointed with the decision and said Hong Kong never indicated there was a problem with its arrest request, a Justice Department official said.
Compiled by Alina Selyukh; Editing by Tabassum Zakaria and Doina Chiacu