I live in Hong Kong. And when the news broke that Snowden had decided to take refuge in my city, I was puzzled at first. But then, as I read and listened to pundit after pundit in the US declare that Hong Kong was a crazy choice for a whistleblower on the lam, I began to realize: no, they’re absolutely wrong. Choosing Hong Kong is clearly something Edward Snowden thought through, and very well indeed. Heck, many of the reasons why he’s probably in Hong Kong are the same reasons I came here, too.
1. Under our (still largely intact and transparent) Hong Kong rule of law, the wheels of justice grind slowly. Very slowly.
This infographic from the South China Morning Post gives you a good picture of all the potential routes that Snowden’s case might take through our legal system. The main thing to note here is the “typical” length of time it takes to move a case between the various appeal courts: a year from the Court of First Instance to the Court of Appeal, and another 3 years to the Court of Final Appeal. As there is nothing “typical” about this case, and since Hong Kong barristers and judges, following the British legal system, worry and deliberate every fine point to death, Snowden’s case could easily drag on longer. The most infamous American citizen to grace a Hong Kong courtroom in this century, “Milkshake Murdress”Nancy Kissel, has been dragging out for 10 years, a trial, an appeal, a re-trial and now another appeal.