A North Korean defector has entered the South Korean consulate in Hong Kong seeking asylum, the South China Morning Post reports.
The publication reported that the 18-year-old
defector participated in the International Mathematical Olympiad held in Hong Kong recently.
Police patrols around the area have been boosted and security stepped up.
China, which has authority over Hong Kong’s diplomatic issues, has reportedly been notified.
South Korea’s foreign ministry declined to comment, with an official saying the government’s position was not to make any comments related to defectors from Pyongyang.
Local media suggests the Hong Kong government is keen to avoid a similar outcome of a saga in 2013 where US whistle-blower Edward Snowden hid in a Hong Kong hotel before flying to Russia for temporary asylum.
Under Hong Kong’s Basic Law, the constitutional document of the territory, China has authority over diplomatic issues.
China usually sends back North Koreans found entering its territory illegally. South Korea usually takes in and rehabilitates North Koreans who escape.
South Korea’s Unification Ministry’s website says more than 29,000 North Koreans have defected to the South since the end of the Korean War.
Australia has admitted it has returned 41 asylum seekers to the Sri Lankan authorities at sea, raising concerns that it violated international law.
The transfer took place on Sunday.
Rights groups had raised concerns that some 200 Sri Lankans may have been handed over, including Tamils who say they face persecution at home.
The government has not commented on other possible cases, but says everyone was subject to “enhanced screening” to ensure compliance with Australia’s international obligations.
This is the first time the Australian government has confirmed it has intercepted people at sea, screened them and returned them to their country of origin. Immigration Minister Scott Morrison acknowledge on Monday that a boat-load of 41 people had been handed back to Sri Lanka, while not commenting on the fate of a second boat reportedly carrying about 150 people.
Scott Morrison said they were transferred at sea just outside the Sri Lankan port of Batticaloa on Sunday.
Australia has admitted it has returned 41 asylum seekers to the Sri Lankan authorities at sea
“All persons intercepted and returned were subjected to an enhanced screening process,” he said.
The government says only four of those returned on Sunday were Tamils.
Scott Morrison added that only one person may have had a case for asylum but he opted to return voluntarily with the rest of the passengers.
Last week the UN refugee agency UNHCR had expressed “profound concern” about the reported situation.
“Requests for international protection should be considered within the territory of the intercepting state, consistent with fundamental refugee protection principles,” it said.
“International law prescribes that no individual can be returned involuntarily to a country in which he or she has a well-founded fear of persecution.”
Sri Lanka has been under heavy international pressure over alleged human rights violations during the final phase of the war against Tamil separatists which ended in 2009.
Rights groups say Tamils still face violence at the hands of the military.
The Australian government has been criticized for imposing what campaigners call a culture of secrecy around asylum, by refusing to comment on operations.
Under current policy, asylum seekers who arrive by boat are sent to detention camps in Papua New Guinea (PNG) or Nauru. If found to be refugees, they will be resettled there, not in Australia.
Australia says its asylum policy – which is also widely believed to involve towing boats back to Indonesian waters – is aimed at saving lives.
It is also facing tough questions over its offshore processing policy. The UN and rights groups have condemned conditions in its camps in PNG and Nauru.
Barack Obama has canceled a meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin after Russia’s decision to grant asylum to Edward Snowden, the White House said.
But President Barack Obama will still attend the G20 economic talks in St Petersburg.
A White House aide said Edward Snowden’s asylum had deepened the pre-existing tension between the two countries.
The Kremlin said it was disappointed by the move and that the invitation to bilateral talks remained in force.
Edward Snowden, a former intelligence contractor, has admitted leaking information about US surveillance programmes to the media.
The decision to cancel the talks, announced during a trip by the president to Los Angeles, comes the morning after Barack Obama said he was “disappointed” with Russia’s decision to offer Edward Snowden asylum for a year.
“We have reached the conclusion that there is not enough recent progress in our bilateral agenda with Russia to hold a US-Russia Summit,” the White House said in a statement.
Barack Obama has canceled a meeting with Vladimir Putin after Russia’s decision to grant asylum to Edward Snow
In addition to Russia’s “disappointing decision” to grant Edward Snowden temporary asylum, the White House cited a lack of progress on issues ranging from missile defense to human rights.
“We believe it would be more constructive to postpone the summit until we have more results from our shared agenda,” the White House said.
The decision to cancel the US-Russia summit comes the day after Barack Obama appeared on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno, in which he condemned a newly enacted anti-gay law in Russia.
But the White House reaffirmed Barack Obama’s commitment to attending an upcoming round of G20 economic talks, which take place on 5-6 September in the Russian city of St Petersburg.
In the wake of the announcement, Vladimir Putin’s foreign affairs adviser Yuri Ushakov said it was clear the US had canceled the meeting over the Snowden affair.
In a conference call on Wednesday, Yuri Ushakov added the Kremlin was disappointed by the move and that the invitation for talks remained open.
“Russian representatives are ready to continue working together with American partners on all key issues on the bilateral and multilateral agenda,” he said.
Barack Obama and Vladimir Putin last met in June, on the sidelines of the G8 summit in Northern Ireland.
Edward Snowden, an American former National Security Agency (NSA) technical contractor and CIA worker, in June leaked to the Guardian and Washington Post newspapers documents and details relating to NSA programmes that gather data on telephone calls and emails.
Edward Snowden, 30, fled his home in Hawaii, where he worked at a small NSA installation, to Hong Kong, and subsequently to Russia. He faces espionage charges in the US.
He spent about a month in a transit area of the Moscow airport as the US pressured other countries to deny him asylum.
On August 1st, Edward Snowden left the airport after the Russian government said it would give him asylum there for a year.
US officials say they will go ahead with high-level talks with Russia on Friday despite Moscow’s decision to grant asylum to Edward Snowden.
Some members of Edward Snowden’s family are applying for visas to visit him in Russia, his lawyer says.
Edward Snowden was granted asylum by Russia despite repeated requests from the US that he be returned to America.
He leaked details about a secret data-gathering programme.
The US state department said Secretary of State John Kerry and US Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel would hold talks on pressing bilateral and global issues with their Russian counterparts in Washington, including Syria and Iran’s nuclear programme.
The two sides were also to discuss Edward Snowden, it added.
President Barack Obama has meanwhile said he is “disappointed” that Russia granted asylum to Edward Snowden.
US will go ahead with high-level talks with Russia despite Moscow’s decision to grant asylum to Edward Snowden
Speaking during an interview for Tuesday’s broadcast of The Tonight Show on NBC, Barack Obama accused Moscow of occasionally adopting a “Cold War mentality”.
Barack Obama said: “What I say to President [Vladimir] Putin is, that’s the past and… we’ve got to think about the future. And there’s no reason why we shouldn’t be able to cooperate more effectively than we do.”
Edward Snowden’s whereabouts in Russia are not publicly known after he slipped away from Moscow’s international airport last week.
But his lawyer says he has now registered an address within Russian territory and his father, Lon Snowden, is waiting for a visa to visit him.
He said Edward Snowden wanted his father’s advice on what to do with his new life.
“We do not have a set date yet, but we have been working closely with Anatoly Kucherena, Ed Snowden’s attorney, on setting a definitive date which will be some time in August,” Mattie Fein, a representative for Lon Snowden, told the Reuters news agency.
Russia’s decision to grant temporary asylum to the former intelligence analyst has strained relations between Moscow and the US.
Edward Snowden leaked details of the National Security Agency’s electronic surveillance programme which gathers data about emails and phone calls made by American citizens.
Edward Snowden has left the Moscow airport where he has been staying since June, his lawyer said.
Anatoly Kucherena said Edward Snowden had received the necessary papers to enter Russian territory from the transit zone at Sheremetyevo Airport.
Edward Snowden has left the Moscow airport where he has been staying since June
Russia is currently considering his request for asylum.
The US has charged Edward Snowden with leaking details of its electronic surveillance programmes.
He arrived in Moscow on June 23 from Hong Kong, after making his revelations.
The Snowden affair has caused diplomatic ructions around the world, upsetting America’s close allies and traditional enemies.
The US Attorney General, Eric Holder, has given Moscow an assurance that Edward Snowden will not face the death penalty if extradited to America, but the Russians say they do not intend to hand him over.
Edward Snowden has applied for temporary asylum in Russia, officials say.
The Federal Migration Service confirmed he had completed the relevant paperwork at Moscow’s Sheremetyevo airport, where he has been for the past three weeks.
Edward Snowden has applied for temporary asylum in Russia
Whistleblower Edward Snowden, 30, is wanted by the US for leaking details of government surveillance programmes.
He has no travel documents, so he has been unable to take up asylum offers from a number of Latin American states.
Edward Snowden’s application for temporary asylum was completed with the help of Russian lawyer Anatoly Kucherena, who has strong links with the Kremlin.
Anatoly Kucherena said the fugitive had stated in the application that he faced possible torture and execution if he returned to the US.
According to Russian officials, Edward Snowden might be moved to a facility in the airport for accommodating refugees while his application was processed.
Russia’s President Vladimir Putin has refused to hand over Edward Snowden to the US authorities, but also said that he could only stay in Russia if he stopped leaking secrets about US surveillance schemes.
Venezuela emerged today as the country most likely to shelter NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden from US justice.
President Nicolás Maduro said he was “willing in principle” to grant Edward Snowden asylum, declaring: “He didn’t kill anyone or plant a bomb.”
Nicolás Maduro said that the NSA whistleblower had not made a formal application for refuge but that he deserved protection under international law.
But the Venezuelan president, who is in Russia on a state visit, batted down speculation that he could spirit the data analyst away to Venezuelan capital Caracas on his presidential jet when he leaves Russia tonight.
Edward Snowden, 30, has so far applied for asylum in 21 countries but faces a thinning list of options after Finland, India, Ecuador and Poland rejected his plea and a number of others said applications can only be made in person on their home soil.
President Nicolás Maduro said he was “willing in principle” to grant Edward Snowden asylum
In the most positive news yet for Edward Snowden, Nicolás Maduro said: “He did not kill anyone and he did not plant a bomb… He only said a big truth to prevent wars.”
His comments came after Edward Snowden has abandoned his bid for asylum in Russia, hours after president Vladimir Putin said he would only be welcome if he stopped leaking the secrets of “our American partners”.
WikiLeaks today revealed Edward Snowden has begged 21 countries to take him in as he fights extradition to the US where he faces charges of espionage after leaking top-secret documents on US surveillance schemes.
The list includes Austria, Bolivia, Brazil, Cuba, Finland, France, Spain, Germany and Ireland.
“Snowden really asked to remain in Russia,” Vladimir Putin’s spokesman, Dmitry Peskov, said.
“Learning yesterday of Russia’s position… he abandoned his intentions and his request to get the possibility to stay in Russia.”
Earlier, Vladimir Putin made it clear Russia would only consider his request if he stops “attacking our American partners” in an unusual gesture of solidarity with the US.
“Russia never hands over anybody anywhere and has no intention to do so,” said the Kremlin leader, defying a specific U.S. request.
“If he [Edward Snowden] wants to remain here there is one condition – he should stop his work aimed at inflicting damage on our American partners no matter how strange this may sound coming from me.”
Edward Snowden accuses President Barack Obama of deception and taking away his basic rights as an American in a letter released by WikiLeaks.
The letter says Barack Obama – despite his public denials that he’d been “wheeling and dealing” with international parties over Edward Snowden – has dispatched Vice President Joe Biden to pressurize governments where the 30-year-old has sought asylum.
WikiLeaks today revealed they have applied to 21 countries in total on Edward Snowden’s behalf. The list includes Austria, Bolivia, Brazil, Cuba, Finland, France, Spain, Germany and Ireland.
It comes as Ecuador’s president Rafael Correa appeared to wash his hands of Edward Snowden saying his country is not considering his asylum request and that the former CIA analyst is Russia’s problem now.
Admitting Ecuador made a “mistake” in helping Edward Snowden flee Hong Kong in the first place, Rafael Correa appeared to backtrack on previous suggestions he was welcome, adding: “Are we responsible for getting him to Ecuador? It’s not logical. The country that has to give him a safe conduct document is Russia.”
Asked if he would like to meet Edward Snowden, Rafael Correa added: “Not particularly. He’s a very complicated person. Strictly speaking, Mr. Snowden spied for some time.”
His comments are in direct contrast to the open letter of thanks Edward Snowden issued hours earlier, before Rafael Correa’s views had been published.
“I remain free and able to publish information that serves the public interest,” Edward Snowden said in an undated Spanish-language letter sent to President Rafael Correa.
“No matter how many more days my life contains, I remain dedicated to the fight for justice in this unequal world. If any of those days ahead realize a contribution to the common good, the world will have the principles of Ecuador to thank.”
Hours after Rafael Correa’s comments, Finland became the first of today’s new list of potential safe havens to reject his plea for asylum saying such a request has to be made from inside the country.
WikiLeaks legal adviser Sarah Harrison is said to have led the petitions for asylum also made to India, Italy, Norway, Venezuela and Switzerland.
Edward Snowden accuses President Barack Obama of deception and taking away his basic rights as an American in a letter released by WikiLeaks
She also claims to have handled his current application in Russia and his previous request for assistance to China while he was hiding out in Hong Kong.
The long list suggests options are thin on the ground for the former NSA contractor and it appears – from his letter – that he is frustrated by the global community’s refusal to shelter him.
In it Edward Snowden complains that the US is illegally pursuing him for an act that was in the public interest.
“While the public has cried out support of my shining a light on this secret system of injustice, the Government of the United States of America responded with an extrajudicial man-hunt costing me my family, my freedom to travel, and my right to live peacefully without fear of illegal aggression,” it states.
Many critics seized on the letter’s syntax last night to claim it was a fake, written by someone in Britain.
Specifically, those doubting the letter’s authenticity pointed to this phrase:“For decades the United States of America have been one of the strongest defenders of the human right to seek asylum.”
An American English speaker would use the singular form, has, in relation to the United States.
After the internet erupted in a flurry of doubt, the word “have” was changed to “has” on the official statement on the WikiLeaks site.
Full text of letter released by WikiLeaks it claims is from Edward Snowden
“One week ago I left Hong Kong after it became clear that my freedom and safety were under threat for revealing the truth. My continued liberty has been owed to the efforts of friends new and old, family, and others who I have never met and probably never will. I trusted them with my life and they returned that trust with a faith in me for which I will always be thankful.
On Thursday, President Obama declared before the world that he would not permit any diplomatic “wheeling and dealing” over my case. Yet now it is being reported that after promising not to do so, the President ordered his Vice President to pressure the leaders of nations from which I have requested protection to deny my asylum petitions.
This kind of deception from a world leader is not justice, and neither is the extralegal penalty of exile. These are the old, bad tools of political aggression. Their purpose is to frighten, not me, but those who would come after me.
For decades the United States of America have been one of the strongest defenders of the human right to seek asylum. Sadly, this right, laid out and voted for by the U.S. in Article 14 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, is now being rejected by the current government of my country. The Obama administration has now adopted the strategy of using citizenship as a weapon. Although I am convicted of nothing, it has unilaterally revoked my passport, leaving me a stateless person. Without any judicial order, the administration now seeks to stop me exercising a basic right. A right that belongs to everybody. The right to seek asylum.
In the end the Obama administration is not afraid of whistleblowers like me, Bradley Manning or Thomas Drake. We are stateless, imprisoned, or powerless. No, the Obama administration is afraid of you. It is afraid of an informed, angry public demanding the constitutional government it was promised — and it should be.
I am unbowed in my convictions and impressed at the efforts taken by so many.
Julian Assange has urged the US to end its “witch-hunt” against WikiLeaks, in his first public statement since entering Ecuador’s London embassy.
Julian Assange also called for the release of Bradley Manning, who is awaiting trial in the US accused of leaking classified documents to the Wikileaks site.
He spoke from a balcony at the embassy and thanked Ecuador’s president, who has granted him asylum.
Julian Assange faces extradition to Sweden over sexual assault claims, which he denies.
Julian Assange has urged the US to end its "witch-hunt" against WikiLeaks, in his first public statement since entering Ecuador's London embassy
He said: “As WikiLeaks stands under threat, so does the freedom of expression and the health of all our societies.
“We must use this moment to articulate the choice that is before the government of the United States of America.
“Will it return to and re-affirm the revolutionary values it was founded on?
“Or will it lurch off the precipice, dragging us all into a dangerous and oppressive world in which journalists fall silent under the fear of prosecution and citizens must whisper in the dark?”
The US is carrying out an investigation into WikiLeaks, which has published a mass of leaked diplomatic cables, embarrassing several governments and international businesses.
Alleged WikiLeaks source Bradley Manning, 24, an intelligence analyst in the American army who served in Iraq, is alleged to have leaked US government cables to the whistle-blowing website. He is set to face a court martial.
In an interview for US television in 2010, Julian Assange denied any knowledge of Pte Manning.
Julian Assange began his speech by thanking his supporters, many of whom have been holding a vigil outside the building in Knightsbridge.
Speaking of the visit by police officers to the embassy on Wednesday, Julian Assange said: “Inside this embassy after dark, I could hear teams of police swarming up into the building through its internal fire escape. But I knew there would be witnesses and that is because of you.
“If the UK did not throw away the Vienna Conventions the other night it is because the world was watching and the world was watching because you were watching.”
It is an established international convention that local police and security forces are not permitted to enter an embassy, unless they have the express permission of the ambassador.
The Foreign Office has said it remained committed to reaching a “negotiated solution” but following its obligations under the Extradition Act, it would arrest Julian Assange if he left the embassy.
In 2010, two female ex-WikiLeaks volunteers accused Julian Assange, an Australian citizen, of committing sexual offences against them while he was in Stockholm to give a lecture.
Julian Assange claims the sex was consensual and the allegations are politically motivated.
In a statement issued after the Ecuadorean decision to grant Julian Assange political asylum, Foreign Secretary William Hague said the UK was under a “binding obligation” to extradite him to Sweden.
The Ecuadorean government said it had granted WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange asylum because it shared his fears of political persecution and the possible consequences of an eventual extradition to the United States.
“There are serious indications of retaliation from the country or countries that produced the information published by Mr. Assange; retaliation that could endanger his safety, integrity and even his life,” said the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Ricardo Patino.
“The evidence shows that if Mr. Assange is extradited to the United States, he wouldn’t have a fair trial.
“It is not at all improbable he could be subjected to cruel and degrading treatment and sentenced to life imprisonment or even capital punishment,” he added.
Most supporters of the WikiLeaks founder share this belief.
And Julian Assange knew he could count Ecuadorean President Rafael Correa among those supporters, even before he walked into the Ecuadorean embassy in London.
The Ecuadorean government said it had granted WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange asylum because it shared his fears of political persecution
But according to Santiago Basabe, a professor at the Latin American Faculty of Social Sciences, Rafael Correa’s reasons go beyond his declared interest in protecting Julian Assange’s rights.
“It is important to understand that this event was the conclusion of a very long negotiation between Mr. Assange and the Ecuadorean government,” he said.
“Many see Mr. Assange as somebody who has fought for freedom of speech and freedom of opinion, which are also key components of the Ecuadorean government official discourse.
“By granting him asylum, the government was trying to prove it really cares about freedom of opinion and freedom of the press, at a moment when Ecuador has been strongly criticized, both nationally and internationally, for the way the national government understands democracy,” Prof. Santiago Basabe added.
In Ecuador, however, not everybody is convinced the country’s international image will be better off as a result.
The private media and a large majority of opinion makers – traditionally opposed to President Rafael Correa – warned that Ecuador had very little to win from a positive response to Julian Assange’s request.
For instance, Ecuador has been trying to secure a commercial agreement with the European Union and many fear that picking a fight with the United Kingdom and Sweden will not help.
And they will certainly try to use the whole issue against Rafael Correa as he seeks re-election in February 2013.
Former President Lucio Gutierrez has even suggested that Rafael Correa’s real intention is to use Julian Assange’s hacking skills to steal the elections.
But according to Santiago Basabe, Rafael Correa does not need to resort to such strategies to stay in power.
“The possibility of President Correa losing the February voting is very low,” he said, while also noting that a small majority of Ecuadoreans supported Julian Assange’s asylum request anyway.
And the possibility of the British authorities storming into the Ecuadorean embassy in London to capture Julian Assange, raised on Wednesday by Foreign Minister Patino, has provided Correa supporters with a powerful rallying cry.
“This is a decision of a sovereign government, which doesn’t have to ask for British permission to act,” said Rosana Alvarado, a representative in the National Assembly of the official Alianza Pais party.
“I hope the Ecuadorean people will remain united and reject any form of colonialism,” said Paco Velasco, also from Alianza Pais.
To a large extent, however, repercussions will depend on the reaction of the British and Swedish governments – and, of course, of the United States.
And very few people seem to believe the WikiLeaks founder will ever make it to South America.
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