Hong Kong apparently welcomed Snowden’s departure

The New York Times reports: 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.

Staying cooped up in the cramped Hong Kong home of a local supporter was less bothersome to Mr. Snowden than the prospect of losing his computer.

“He didn’t go out, he spent all his time inside a tiny space, but he said it was O.K. because he had his computer,” Mr. Ho said. “If you were to deprive him of his computer, that would be totally intolerable.”

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.

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