The United States government wrote the wrong middle name on documents requesting Edward Snowden’s extradition from Hong Kong, the Wall Street Journal reported Wednesday.
Snowden’s passport lists his middle name as James, while documents provided by the Department of Justice listed it as Joseph. The DOJ also failed to specify Snowden’s passport number.
Hong Kong officials claim the confusion allowed Snowden to leave the country without issue.
“Until the minute of Snowden’s departure, the U.S. government hadn’t yet replied to our requests for clarification,” he said. “Hong Kong’s government had no legal basis to block his departure,” said Hong Kong’s justice secretary, Rimsky Yuen. “Any suggestion that we have been deliberately letting Mr. Snowden go away or to do any other things to obstruct the normal operation is totally untrue.”
While the U.S. government has been working to retrieve Snowden as quickly as possible, local Hong Kong lawyers stressed that dealing with the city’s bureaucracy takes precision and patience.
“If you want to restrict someone’s freedom to travel you need to get the paperwork,” said Giles Surman, a lawyer who is experienced Hong Kong extradition cases.
Snowden is currently thought to be living in Moscow, with plans to depart for Ecuador.