Hong Kong law-enforcement officials are now blaming Edward Snowden’s escape to Russia on a bureaucratic mix-up over the middle name on Snowden’s passport, according to the Wall Street Journal’s China Real Time Report. In response to U.S. criticism of the decision to allow Snowden to board a flight to Moscow last Friday, Hong Kong justice secretary Rimsky Yuen claimed that American extradition requests identified the ex-intelligence contractor as either “Edward James Snowden” or “Edward J. Snowden,” whereas the city’s passport records listed his middle name as Joseph. Yuen added that the U.S. did not specify Snowden’s passport number, which further complicated the request.
Yuen complained that “Until the minute of Snowden’s departure, the U.S. government hadn’t yet replied to our requests for clarification,” and that, therefore, “Hong Kong’s government had no legal basis to block his departure.” Snowden, who admitted to the South China Morning Post that he joined intelligence contractor Booz Allen Hamilton in order to leak classified information to the public, remains beyond the reach of U.S. officials. Russian president Vladimir Putin has refused to cooperate with requests for his extradition.
On the bright side, Russian state-controlled television network Russia Today reports that Snowden is currently experiencing the Layover From Hell.