Hong Kong officials say the US government got National Security Agency leaker Edward Snowden’s middle name wrong in documents it submitted to back a request for his arrest.
Snowden hid in Hong Kong for several weeks after revealing secret US surveillance programmes. Hong Kong allowed him to fly to Moscow on Sunday, saying a US request for his arrest did not fully comply with its requirements.
Justice secretary Rimsky Yuen said discrepancies in the paperwork filed by US authorities were to blame, although the US justice department denied that on Wednesday.
Yuen said Hong Kong immigration records listed Snowden’s middle name as Joseph, but the US government used the name James in some documents and referred to him only as Edward J Snowden in others.
"These three names are not exactly the same, therefore we believed that there was a need to clarify," he said on Tuesday.
Yuen said US authorities also did not provide Snowden’s passport number. The decision to let Snowden leave Hong Kong irked the White House, which said it damaged US-Chinese relations.
US officials implied that Beijing had a hand in letting Snowden leave Hong Kong, a former British colony that is now a semiautonomous region with its own legal system.
Hong Kong officials have pushed back, stressing that they followed the city’s rule of law in processing the US request.
The US justice department rejected the notion that Hong Kong had required clarification about Snowden’s middle name — or that it needed his passport number, saying the US had provided to Hong Kong all that was required under the terms of their extradition treaty.
Snowden flew from Hong Kong to Moscow and was expected to seek asylum in Ecuador.