HONG KONG, June 11, 2013 (AFP) – Whistleblower Edward Snowden was acclaimed Tuesday by WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange as a “hero” defending personal liberty, but US lawmakers clamoured for the NSA contractor’s immediate expulsion from his Hong Kong hideout to face justice at home. Snowden, a 29-year-old technology expert working for a private firm subcontracted to the National Security Agency, has gone to ground after evading a press pack and apparently checking out of his Hong Kong hotel on Monday.
Many in Washington are baying for Snowden’s blood after he leaked the NSA’s worldwide monitoring of private users’ web traffic and phone records, and some social media commentators in China queried his choice of destination.
In coming to Chinese territory, Snowden has “left the tiger’s den and entered the wolf’s lair”, a user calling himself Mr-Edward-Lin said on a Twitter-style “weibo” site.
But Assange urged nations around the world to offer safe haven to the young American, after Snowden told The Guardian newspaper that he had come to Hong Kong on May 20 with a treasure trove of NSA secrets.
“Edward Snowden is a hero who has informed the public about one of the most serious events of the decade, which was the creeping formulation of a mass surveillance state,” the