Posts Tagged ‘Edward Snowden’

Freedom Canceled: Hong Kong’s Pro-Democracy Student Leaders Denied Trip to Beijing by Communist Government

November 15, 2014

Cathay Pacific spokesman tells the Federation of Students’ Alex Chow Yong-kang, Eason Chung Yiu-wa and Nathan Law Kwun-chung their immigration documents have been revoked

Stuart Lau and Joyce Ng
South China Morning Post

Three pro-democracy student leaders attempting to visit Beijing were turned away at Hong Kong airport on Saturday, as airline staff said their immigration documents had been revoked by mainland authorities.

Alex Chow Yong-kang, Eason Chung Yiu-wa and Nathan Law Kwun-chung, all from the Federation of Students, looked shocked when they heard the announcement from a Cathay Pacific staff member, who said the airline was “notified this morning” about the revocation of their home-return permits.

The government in Beijing has yet to offer any explanation for the abrupt change of their immigration status. Lester Shum, the group’s deputy leader, said it would hold a press conference at 7.30pm.

The trio made no comment to dozens of reporters at Chek Lap Kok airport covering what would otherwise have been a historic trip, with Hong Kong’s democracy supporters pressing for direct political dialogue with central government officials in the capital.

The students arrived at the airport at 3.30pm, and were greeted by about 100 supporters holding yellow umbrellas in the departure hall. About a dozen anti-Occupy protesters were also present.

Supporters of Federation of Students representatives hold yellow umbrellas inside Hong Kong International Airport on Saturday. Photo: EPA

At about 3.50pm, the three student leaders were escorted by police into the immigration area through the staff entrance.

But before their baggage was scanned, they were stopped by several police officers and other people in uniforms, who took them aside and questioned them for almost half an hour. They were then taken out of the immigration area through the staff exit.

Before they entered the immigration area, Chow, secretary-general of the federation, said he could not accept the possibility of being denied entry. “We have exhausted all the channels to try to communicate with the government officials. The visit is the only way we could resort to.”

Regina Ip Lau Suk-yee, a lawmaker and former security secretary, said it was “entirely discretionary” for mainland authorities to revoke entry documents belonging to visitors who were “not bona fide”.

“The students are just staging a show. Their attitude is poor,” Ip said. She noted that President Xi Jinping was not in Beijing, nor did the students make an appointment with state leaders, asking: “Did the students really treat their country as their home? It’s a home-return permit.”

She said the trio’s case could be compared with that of Edward Snowden, as the UK government told worldwide carriers not to take the man whom the US government alleged to be a leaker of state secrets there. “Any immigration authority has the right to do so [to] suspected terrorists, criminals or troublemakers,” Ip said.


Britain’s spy chief: Facebook, Twitter help terrorists, criminals

November 4, 2014

Britain: New GCHQ director Robert Hannigan accuses some Silicon Valley companies of becoming ‘the command and control networks of choice’ for terrorists

Robert Hannigan takes over as Director at GCHQ

Robert Hannigan (right) took on the role of director of GCHQ (left) last month after a distinguished career as a senior diplomat Photo: Crown copyright

Technology giants such as Facebook and Twitter have become “the command and control networks of choice” for terrorists and criminals but are “in denial” about the scale of the problem, the new head of GCHQ has said.

Robert Hannigan said that Isil terrorists in Syria and Iraq have “embraced the web” and are using it to intimidate people and inspire “would-be jihadis” from all over the world to join them.

He urged the companies to work more closely with the security services, arguing that it is time for them to confront “some uncomfortable truths” and that privacy is not an “absolute right”.

He suggested that unless US technology companies co-operate, new laws will be needed to ensure that intelligence agencies are able to track and pursue terrorists.

His comments represent some of the most outspoken criticism yet of US technology giants by the security services, and come amid growing tensions following leaks by whistleblower Edward Snowden.

In an article for the Financial Times, Mr Hannigan said: “I understand why they [US technology companies] have an uneasy relationship with governments. They aspire to be neutral conduits of data and to sit outside or above politics.

“But increasingly their services not only host the material of violent extremism or child exploitation, but are the routes for the facilitation of crime and terrorism.

“However much they may dislike it, they have become the command-and-control networks of choice for terrorists and criminals, who find their services as transformational as the rest of us.

“GCHQ is happy to be part of a mature debate on privacy in the digital age. But privacy has never been an absolute right and the debate about this should not become a reason for postponing urgent and difficult decisions.”

Mr Hannigan took on the role of director of GCHQ last month after a distinguished career as a senior diplomat. He was appointed to the role in the wake of the Snowden scandal to help bolster the public profile of the organisation and take a more active role in the debate about its work.

He highlighted the eruption of extremist jihadi material online on websites such as Twitter, Facebook and Whatsapp, and said that terrorists are now able to hide their identities using encryption tools which were once only available to states.

He said that in the past, al-Qaida and its terrorists have used the internet as a place to anonymously distribute material or “meet in dark spaces”.

Isil, however, has taken a much more direct approach, using social networking services to get their messages across in a “language their peers understand”.

He highlighted the production values of videos in which they attack towns, fire weapons and detonate explosives, saying that they have a “self-conscious online gaming quality”.

He said that even the groups grotesque videos of beheadings highlight the sophistication of their use of social media. “This time the ‘production values’ were high and the videos stopped short of showing the actual beheading,” he said.

“They have realised that too much graphic violence can be counter productive in their target audience and that by self-censoring they can stay just the right side of the rules of social media sites, capitalising on western freedom of expression.”

He highlighted the use of popular terms on Twitter to broaden their appeal such as World Cup and Ebola. He said that during the advance on Mosul in Iraq the jihadists were sending 40,000 tweets a day.

Their cause has been helped by Mr Snowden as they copy his high level of encryption, with some programmes and apps even advertised as “Snowden approved”. He said: “There is no doubt that young foreign fighters have learned and benefited from the leaks of the past two years”.

Mr Hannigan said that families have “strong views” about the ethics of companies and do not expect the social networks they use to “facilitate murder or child abuse”.

The Conservatives are pushing for a communications Bill to give the security services greater access to internet communications. The move has been blocked by the Liberal Democrats.

Mr Hannigan said: “For our part, intelligence agencies such as GCHQ need to enter the public debate about privacy. I think we have a good story to tell.

“As we celebrate the 25th anniversary of the spectacular creation that is the world wide web, we need a new deal between democratic governments and the technology companies in the area of protecting our citizens.

“It should be a deal rooted in the democratic values we share. That means addressing some uncomfortable truths. Better to do it now than in the aftermath of greater violence.”

Facebook rules state that organisations with a record of terrorist or violent criminal activity are not allowed to “maintain a presence” on the social network or post content in support of terrorist groups.

The company, which has declined to make an official statement, says it already works with law enforcement agencies and will disclose information either in good faith if it will prevent harm or upon court order.

Other US internet companies including Google, Twitter and Microsoft declined to comment.

Hong Kong: China’s dumping ground

October 23, 2014
Supporting deportees from China is not a financial and social burden that Hong Kong should accept.

Police Otherwise Occupied: Ending up just metres away from POlice Force HQ in Wanchai, China ejects its unwanted in HK. Photo: GAW


In the past year I have had the opportunity to enjoy a few evenings in Wan Chai with friends and associates. We have observed and indeed, commented on, the increasing number of African prostitutes parading the streets under the watchful eyes of African men, who are clearly controlling these women. I have also experienced an increase in men from the Indian subcontinent approaching me offering to sell drugs, stolen property or counterfeit goods. This kind of street crime and exploitation in Hong Kong has conspicuously increased over the past several years. Why has this happened, and why is the Hong Kong Government failing to take action?
Over the past decade China has made a strategic policy decision to increase trade and development with Africa. To encourage bilateral trade and increase Chinese influence, a decision was made to facilitate increased visitation between Africa and China. Guangzhou is a favored destination for many West Africans, particularly from Nigeria, to visit the low cost textile and manufacturing factories and bring merchandise back to sell in Africa. Unfortunately, there are not many direct flights between West Africa and Guangzhou, so many African travelers enter China via Hong Kong.
Stay in China….
After their arrival in China, many of these visitors decide to stay, notwithstanding the terms of their visa requirements. Many even destroy or “lose” their passports. When they are detained and found to be in China illegally, they are expelled by Chinese authorities to their last port of entry, which is usually Hong Kong. Once in Hong Kong, many of these scofflaws, without passports or means to support themselves, claim hardship or refugee status, inviting Hong Kong taxpayers to provide housing, financial support and medical care.
… dumped in Hong Kong
No fair minded, reasonable person would take issue with legitimate refugee claimants being assisted while they attempt to integrate into Hong Kong society. The problem is that many refugees in Hong Kong are not fleeing torture or political persecution. They have arrived in Hong Kong chasing economic opportunity in China, and then disregard Chinese law when it was not in their best economic interest. Supporting deportees from China is not a financial and social burden that Hong Kong should accept. More importantly, these opportunistic “refugees of convenience” detract from the credibility, resources, and compassion offered to legitimate refugees who deserve our full support.
UNHCR’s mission creep
The United Nations High Commission on Refugees (UNHCR) has been established in Hong Kong for several decades and was instrumental in the process of resettling some 70,000 Vietnamese boat people who fled to Hong Kong in the 1970’s. The UNHCR still operates in Hong Kong and, like similar non-profit organizations, they must justify their existence to remain relevant and funded. If there were no refugees or displaced persons in Hong Kong there would be no need for the UNHCR (HK) to exist.
Mission creep in Hong Kong is suspected when recent revelations show that the UNHCR assisted Edward Snowden to avoid criminal prosecution in the United States and facilitated his escape to Russia, a country that hardly has an admirable human rights record. Their mission becomes suspect, raising questions as to why Hong Kongers should bear the cost and risks of their actions.
It is also fair then to question the numbers of reported refugees seeking resettlement in Hong Kong. This refugee industry has a vested interest in perpetuating a problem that may not be as significant as we are led to believe.
Leadership lacking
Legislative and political leadership is needed to preserve the rights of legitimate refugee claimants and to manage the problems presented by the growing number of bogus refugee claimants in Hong Kong. In my view there has been a remarkable degree of moral cowardice on this issue.
It seems the Administration will continue to put decisions off to the courts to decide the fate of refugees. This appears to only benefit the legal industry, as taxpayers ultimately fund years of litigation and legal posturing as the cases languish in the courts. Hong Kong’s legislators should take a position and accept responsibility one way or the other for refugees and human rights. Instead, we are experiencing a rise of judicial activism in HK courts at the expense of the democratic values that so many in Hong Kong cherish. If Hong Kong people are content to have laws and financial obligations made by the judiciary alone, then why all the fuss about Beijing’s view regarding democracy in Hong Kong?
A job for politicians, not judges
It is not fair to legitimate refugees that they are forced into a base-level survival mode simply because Hong Kong has not developed a clear policy or process to adjudicate refugee claims. Hong Kong takes a piecemeal, inconsistent approach to the disposition of refugee claims, which appears arbitrary. This is inefficient, expensive and more importantly, corrosive to the quality of life of both refugees and Hong Kong citizens who yearn to enjoy an evening out without being hit on to buy drugs, women or stolen property.
The Hong Kong government has several options to address the ongoing drain on limited resources caused by illegitimate refugee claimants and foreign criminals.
To do #1: Stop them at the border
Firstly, those who merely transit through Hong Kong for entry into China should be turned back at the Chinese border, when the Chinese repatriate them back to Hong Kong. After all, their final destination was always China, who originally granted them an entry visa when they departed their home countries in the first place. China should bear responsibility for the cost of repatriating these people to their country of origin, not Hong Kong.
To do #2: House them in China
Secondly, since Hong Kong is only a city with limited space, individuals claiming refugee status should be temporarily domiciled in China in some of the vast empty apartment blocks that exist in Inner Mongolia and Heilongjiang, It would be cheaper for Hong Kong taxpayers to help subsidize these people while their refugee claims or rights to abode in Hong Kong are being assessed. Hong Kong is part of China, so if people wish to illegally enter Hong Kong, they should be willing to be housed in other parts of China while a determination is made as to their legal status in Hong Kong.
To do #3: Evict them or let them work
Finally, when undocumented individuals arrive in Hong Kong and claim refugee or persecuted persons status they should be immediately assessed by immigration officials to determine if there is a high or low likelihood that they will meet the criteria for resettlement elsewhere or whether they will meet the standards for admittance into Hong Kong. If they pose a security risk they should be immediately placed into custody and returned from whence they came. If they pose a low security risk and have a legitimate claim then the government should allow them the right to work in Hong Kong, so they can support themselves and not be forced into a criminal lifestyle to make ends meet.
It puzzles me that the Government is clear and definitive on its legal treatment of Filipino and Indonesian domestic workers who provide a valuable service to many Hong Kong families. Yet it fails to provide the same legal clarity to those who come to Hong Kong from other shores to take advantage of China’s economic prosperity without contributing in a positive manner to Hong Kong society.
Bill Majcher worked in finance before and after a 22 year career with the Royal Canadian Mounted Police where he conducted deep undercover and covert operations and developed the RCMP’s response to terrorism post-September 11 and their Capital Markets Enforcement Team in Western Canada. More at

Resuming cyber security cooperation between China and the United States won’t be easy

October 19, 2014


China's State Councillor Yang Jiechi (L) and U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry talk over tea during a day of meetings in Boston, Massachusetts October 18, 2014.      REUTERS/Brian Snyder

China’s State Councillor Yang Jiechi (L) and U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry talk over tea during a day of meetings in Boston, Massachusetts October 18, 2014. Credit: Reuters/Brian Snyder

(Reuters) – Resuming cyber security cooperation between China and the United States would be difficult because of “mistaken U.S. practices”, China’s top diplomat told U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry.

Cyber security is an irritant to bilateral ties. On Wednesday the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation said hackers it believed were backed by the Chinese government had launched more attacks on U.S. companies, a charge China rejected as unfounded.

In May, the United States charged five Chinese military officers with hacking American firms, prompting China to shut down a bilateral working group on cyber security.

A map of China is seen through a magnifying glass on a computer screen showing binary digits in Singapore in this January 2, 2014 photo illustration. REUTERS/Edgar Su

Yang Jiechi, a state councillor overseeing foreign affairs, told Kerry in Boston the United States “should take positive action to create necessary conditions for bilateral cyber security dialogue and cooperation to resume”, according to a statement seen on the Chinese Foreign Ministry website on Sunday.

“Due to mistaken U.S. practices, it is difficult at this juncture to resume Sino-U.S. cyber security dialogue and cooperation,” Yang was quoted as saying. The statement did not elaborate.

Former U.S. spy agency contractor Edward Snowden has said the U.S. National Security Agency hacked into official network infrastructure at universities in China and Hong Kong.

China, repeatedly accused by the United States of hacking, has used Snowden’s allegations as ammunition to point the finger at Washington for hypocrisy.

(Reporting by Benjamin Kang Lim; editing by Andrew Roche)


Edward Snowden Film Likely To Embarrass Obama Administration

October 11, 2014

Citizen Four is the shocking doc about Edward Snowden made by Glenn Greenwald and Laura Poitras. Just screened tonight was the two hour film will be released by the Weinstein Company this month. It doesn’t paint the Obama administration in a very good light as Snowden explains how the government has violated privacy rights on a massive scale.

Also the filmmakers clearly inducate that all roads lead to POTUS, a fairly serious accusation. There may be serious repercussions.

Then there’s the Hollywoodization of Snowden. The detail of how and why Snowden went about this is pretty surprising considering how the 29 year old former NSA employee says he wants his own privacy and not to be a celebrity. It’s instructive to see his evolution from eyeglass wearing nerd to contact lenses and moussed up hair sporting hero of his own thriller. It’s all very Tom Cruise. Even the beautiful girlfriend sets up housekeeping with him in Moscow. Nevertheless as the details of the NSA’s programs are revealed Snowden says, “This isn’t science fiction. It’s really happening.”.




At the end of the Laura Poitras doc, the famed informant registers shock over another who outranks him

By Seth Abramovitch, Chris O’Falt

The Hollywood Reporter

A second National Security Agency whistleblower exists within the ranks of government intelligence.

That bombshell comes toward the end of Citizenfour, a new documentary from filmmaker Laura Poitras about NSA informant Edward Snowden that had its world premiere on Friday at the New York Film Festival.

In the key scene, journalist Glenn Greenwald visits Snowden at a hotel room in Moscow. Fearing they are being taped, Greenwald communicates with Snowden via pen and paper.

While some of the exchanges are blurred for the camera, it becomes clear that Greenwald wants to convey that another government whistleblower — higher in rank than Snowden — has come forward.

The revelation clearly shocks Snowden, whose mouth drops open when he reads the details of the informant’s leak.

Also revealed by Greenwald is the fact that 1.2 million Americans are currently on a government watch-list. Among them is Poitras herself.

And the surprises don’t end there. Near the end of the film, which received a rousing standing ovation, it is revealed that Lindsay Mills, Snowden’s dancer girlfriend of 10 years, has been living with Snowden in Moscow.

When Poitras went to Moscow in July to show Snowden an early cut of the film, she shot footage of the two cooking dinner together, which appears in the final cut.

Snowden fled to Russia after the U.S. government revoked his passport and put pressure on other governments not to grant him asylum.

After spending 39 days in a Moscow airport, Snowden was granted a one-year asylum from President Vladimir Putin. He is now in the country on a three-year residency permit.

Poitras took the stage at Lincoln Center’s Alice Tully Hall following the screening, flanked by Greenwald, with whom she partnered on a pair of explosive stories in The Guardian and Washington Post about Snowden’s surveillance disclosures in June 2014.

Also joining them was Jeremy Scahill, their partner on the website The Intercept, and Snowden’s father and stepmother. Snowden’s father thanked Poitras for having made Citizenfour, which he deemed a “wonderful piece of work.”

Poitras kept her comments following the screening to a minimum, and thanked her crew and Snowden. Instead it was Greenwald and Scahill who did most of the talking, with Scahill at one point describing Poitras as “the most bad-ass director alive, period.”

Before the screening, Poitras told The Hollywood Reporter that she will never forget the moment when Snowden — who was so young Greenwald initially doubted his authenticity — said he was willing to go on the record with his allegations.

“One of the most intense moments was when Snowden told us his identity would not remain anonymous, and I knew that somebody was really, really putting their life on the line,” Poitras said.

A demonstrator holds a photograph of Edward Snowden

A demonstrator holds a sign with a photograph of Edward Snowden during 4 July celebrations in 2013 in Boston, Massachusetts. Photograph: Brian Snyder/REUTERS
From The Guardian
Lindsay Mills, girlfriend of Edward SnowdenLindsay Mills, the girlfriend of NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden, in Hawaii. Photograph: Splash/Luis Silos III

The mystery of the whereabouts of Edward Snowden’s long-time girlfriend is solved in a documentary that premiered in New York on Friday night: she has been living with the national security whistleblower in Russia since July.

The surprise revelation in the documentary, filmed by Laura Poitras, upends the widespread assumption that Snowden had deserted Lindsay Mills and that she, in a fit of pique, fled Hawaii where they had been living to stay with her parents in mainland US.

Since Snowden, a former NSA contractor, outed himself last year as being behind the biggest leak in US intelligence history, Mills has remained silent, giving no interviews or any hints of her feelings on the subject of her boyfriend or his actions.

The two-hour long documentary, Citizenfour, shows Mills living in Russia with Snowden.

When the Guardian met Snowden in Moscow in July, Snowden suggested the relationship was more complex than the view constantly recycled in the media of a woman abandoned and hinted that the two were not in fact estranged.

Citizenfour offers a fly-on-the wall account of Snowden. Poitras filmed him at the Mira hotel in Hong Kong last year during interviews with journalists that resulted in a series of stories in the Guardian about the extent of surveillance by the US and British intelligence agencies as well as the internet and telecom companies. The revelations started a worldwide debate about the balance between surveillance and privacy.

Poitras captures the tension in his room at the Mira – where then-Guardian columnist Glenn Greenwald and I interviewed him – and in his final minutes at the hotel before he fled after being tipped off that hordes of media were about to arrive. She also filmed at the Guardian in London ahead of publication of one of the most explosive of the stories arising from Snowden’s revelations, and in Moscow, where Snowden is now in exile.

Snowden has been reluctant to talk about his personal life, preferring the media focus to be on wider debate about surveillance rather than him. But Poitras’s portrayal is both personal and sympathetic.

In his first comment about the documentary, which Poitras had shown to him in advance, Snowden told the Guardian: “I hope people won’t see this as a story about heroism. It’s actually a story about what ordinary people can do in extraordinary circumstances.”

Snowden was working as an NSA contractor in Hawaii where Mills joined him. A dancer, she posted many details and photographs about herself and him on the web.

She was still in Hawaii when news broke from Hong Kong that he was the whistleblower. Days earlier, authorities, suspicious about his prolonged absence from work, had visited their home.

On her blog, subtitled, ‘Adventures of a world-travelling, pole-dancing superhero,’ she wrote that she felt “sick, exhausted and carrying the weight of the world”. Shortly afterwards, she took the blog down.

The two appear to have been together since at least 2009, living part of the time near Baltimore before moving to Hawaii in 2012.

China’s Nobel Prize winner in 2010 Liu Xiaobo still unable to collect prize from Chinese prison

October 11, 2014

Peace Price Still Not Delivered: As Malala Yousafzai wins this year’s award, human rights groups call for 2010 winner Liu Xiaobo not to be forgotten as he remains locked in a Chinese jail serving an 11-year sentence  

The empty chair with a diploma and medal that should have been awarded to Nobel Peace Prize winner Liu Xiaobo  stands in Oslo City Hall

The empty chair with a diploma and medal that should have been awarded to Nobel Peace Prize winner Liu Xiaobo stands in Oslo City Hall Photo: 2010 AFP

Four years after Chinese university professor Liu Xiaobo was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for his work campaigning for democratic rights in China – he has still not been able to collect his prize in person.

Leading human rights groups called on Friday for Liu, 58, not to be forgotten as he remains locked in a Chinese jail serving an 11-year sentence for circulating his ‘Charter 08’ petition that called for greater democratic rights in China.

His wife, Liu Xia, who has never committed a crime, remains under house arrest in Beijing and was admitted to hospital earlier this year.

While expressing “delight” at the awards for Malala Yousafzai and Kailash Satyarthi, leading human rights groups who have campaigned for Liu’s release said that the plight of the 2010 laureate must not be forgotten.

“We cannot forget that another Peace Prize winner Liu Xiaobo remains imprisoned four years on since being awarded his Prize,” Kate Allen, the UK director of Amnesty International told The Telegraph, “Amnesty continues to campaign tirelessly for Liu Xiaobo’s release.”

Sophie Richardson, China director for Human Rights Watch added: “While it is marvellous to see the efforts around education and freeing children from slavery being honoured, that is tempered by some extent knowing that Liu Xiaobo still has five years to go in prison for doing nothing more than speaking his mind,”

Liu was a veteran of the 1989 Tiananmen Square demonstrations that left several hundred dead after China’s ruling Communist Party sent in tanks to crush the protests. He was represented by an empty chair at the awards ceremony in Oslo in 2010.

The decision to award him the prize “for his long and non-violent struggle for fundamental human rights in China” infuriated Beijing who immediately froze diplomatic ties with Norway in retaliation.

This week a US report by the Congressional-Executive Commission on China warned that China’s human rights record has worsened in key areas over the past year and that limits on free speech and assembly are growing.

Critics of the prize noted that the Nobel Committee, which is independent of the Norwegian government, had this year shied away from more politically difficult choices, such as Edward Snowden, who leaked US surveillance secrets or Russia’s opposition newspaper Novaya Gazeta.


Photo: Chinese people wear face masks with “No to Kunming PX,” paraxylene, written, chant slogans as they hold protest against a planned refinery project in downtown Kunming in southwest China’s Yunnan province Saturday, May 4, 2013. After word spread about an environmental protest that was planned for Saturday in the central Chinese city of Chengdu, drugstores and printing shops were ordered to report anyone making certain purchases. Microbloggers say government fliers urged people not to demonstrate, and schools were told to stay open to keep students on campus. Meanwhile, hundreds of people – many wearing mouth masks – gathered in Kunming to protest a planned refinery project in the area. The demonstrators demanded information transparency and that public health be safeguarded. (AP Photo)

Chinese human rights activist Cao Shunli died after falling critically ill in police detention in China

Officials in eastern China must abandon plans to demolish churches and crosses and stop their

Parishioners line up outside the Sanjiang church in Wenzhou hoping to save it from demolition by the Chinese Communist government Photo: Tom

U.S. First Lady Michelle Obama delivers a speech at the Stanford Center at Peking University on March 22, 2014 in Beijing, China.

U.S. First Lady Michelle Obama on her way to deliver a speech at the Stanford Center at Peking University on March 22, 2014 in Beijing, China Photo: GETTY IMAGES

Beijing's No 1 detention centre

Outside Beijing’s No 1 detention centre. Photograph: Ed Jones/AFP/Getty Images

China’s Xi Jinping

Former Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao’s extended family has controlled assets worth at least $2.7 billion, the New York Times reported, citing corporate and regulatory records and unidentified people familiar with the family’s investments.

China angered after FBI head says Chinese hacking costs billions

October 9, 2014

BEIJING Thu Oct 9, 2014 4:29am EDT

FBI Director James Comey testifies at a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on ''Oversight of the Federal Bureau of Investigation'' on Capitol Hill in Washington May 21, 2014. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque

FBI Director James Comey testifies at a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on ”Oversight of the Federal Bureau of Investigation” on Capitol Hill in Washington May 21, 2014. Credit: Reuters/Kevin Lamarque

(Reuters) – China accused the United States on Thursday of faking facts, after the head of the FBI said that Chinese hacking likely cost the U.S. economy billions of dollars every year.

Charges over hacking and internet spying have increased tension between the two countries. In May, the United States charged five Chinese military officers with hacking into U.S. companies, prompting China to suspend a Sino-U.S. working group on cyber issues. China has denied wrongdoing.

Speaking on CBS’ 60 Minutes program on Sunday, FBI Director James Comey said Chinese hackers were targeting big U.S. companies, and that some of them probably did not even know they had been hacked.

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei, asked about Comey’s remarks at a daily news briefing, said China banned hacking and “firmly strikes” against such criminal activity.

“We express strong dissatisfaction with the United States’ unjustified fabrication of facts in an attempt to smear China’s name and demand that the U.S.-side cease this type of action,” Hong said.

“We also demand that the U.S. side cease its large-scale systematic internet attacks on other countries. The United States tries to divert attention by crying wolf. This won’t succeed.”

Many in China view the United States as being hypocritical following revelations about its own extensive spying by former U.S. intelligence contractor Edward Snowden.

Comey said Chinese hackers were seeking to obtain all sorts of information, including company negotiation tactics.

“I liken them a bit to a drunk burglar. They’re kicking in the front door, knocking over the vase, while they’re walking out with your television set. They’re just prolific,” Comey said.

(Reporting by Michael Martina; Writing by Ben Blanchard; Editing by Robert Birsel)

Hong Kong As Thursday Begins: Pan-democrats vow to impeach chief executive; Occupy organizers may not participate with students in meeting with government on Friday

October 8, 2014

Hong As Thursday Begins: Pan-democrats vow to impeach chief executive; Occupy organizers may not participate with students in meeting with government on Friday

Good evening and welcome to our continuing coverage of the Occupy movement.

An Australian newspaper has published a report questioning an alleged undisclosed payment of HK$49.9 million from an Australian firm that Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying received but failed to disclose upon assuming office. The Age report said Leung’s office responded by saying he did not have to disclose the payment. 

Large crowds have gathered at the main protest site in Admiralty after a quiet day as Friday’s talks between Chief Secretary Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor and students approach.

Stay tuned for all the breaking news.

Hong Kong Protesters gather on Harcourt Road on Wednesday night, October 8, 2014. Photo by K. Y. Cheng for the South China Morning Post


Hong Kong Protesters gather at Admiralty on Wednesday night, October 8, 2014. Photo by David Wong for the South China Morning Post

10.30pm Admiralty: On Harcourt Road, hundreds of residents gather, either sitting on the ground or standing near the stage, to listen to a speech by Ed Chin, a core member of Occupy Central’s finance group. Chin thanks foreign journalists for covering the sit-ins. He reiterates that his group of bankers and stock brokers worry about “unjust” capital flowing from the mainland into Hong Kong, and that civic liberties in the city are diminishing.

10.15pm Admiralty: Pan-democratic lawmakers vow to impeach Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying over the HK$50 million he received from a Australian firm that he failed to declare prior to becoming chief executive. Labour Party councillor Cyd Ho said: “Apart from his duties as chief executive, Leung was also serving the needs of another company. This is a serious of conflict of interest.” She says she hoped that pro-government lawmakers would not protect Leung.

10.00pm Admiralty: Hong Kong’s first “Legislative Council meeting-in-residence” takes place with 12 pan-democratic lawmakers – who were blocked by 41 pro-establishment lawmakers from having a normal Legco meeting today – taking to the stage at the Occupy rally in Admiralty to express their discontent with the government.

Civic Party’s Alan Leong Kah-kit says he plans to ask the government who gave the order to fire tear gas at peaceful protesters on the night of September 28. Leong says he will also find out how pro-establishment lawmakers managed to suspend today’s Legco session. Leong says he suspect they did this because they had “received messages that Beijing wants to fire” Leung Chun-ying, citing the curiously-timed breaking news today about Leung’s HK$50 million “secret deal” with an Australian company.

Image: Hong Kong chief executive Leung Chun-ying By Dale de la Rey for AFP

Another Civic Party legislator Claudia Mo Man-ching says the police’s arrest of student leader Joshua Wong Chi-fung, the use of tear gas and “collusion with triads” had pushed the Occupy movement to its current scale. She adds that when Legco resumed, pro-democratic legislators would start the impeachment process against Leung.

The Labour Party’s Fernando Cheung says the Occupy protesters had been very civilised. “The SAR government did not solve the air pollution problem in over a decade, but [Occupy protesters] solved it in just two days,” said Cheung. “Hong Kong people’s level of civilisation deserves a better government.”

View image on Twitter

9.45pm: The Hong Kong Bar Association, which last week criticised the police firing tear gas on protesters on September 28 as being “excessive”, said in a statement that civil disobedience did not constitute any defence to a criminal charge. “Even on a sympathetic view of civil disobedience, it is essential for participants to respect the rights and freedoms of other people who do not necessarily agree with their views and not to cause excessive damage or inconvenience,” the statement said.

9.30pm Mong Kok: The crowd size is now about 600 in Mong Kok. Protesters have set up a “Woman’s support area” where different speakers share stories and offer words of encouragement to female protesters on the front line.

“Many people perceive women in Hong Kong as only knowing how to go to work, go shopping or complaining about their boyfriends not making enough money,” said one speaker. “This movement has shown everyone that women are attentive to politics and contribute to the fight.”

One man, who claimed to be a martial arts practitioner, taught a group of women self-defence tactics to counter an attack or sexual assault. He taught them to pull their arm away from a wrist grab and how to “punch the target in the nose”. “I saw the situation getting very dangerous and I felt I had to teach them some easy and practical self defence tactics,” the man, who declined to be named, said.

9.00pm Causeway Bay: An English class being held at the Yee Wo Street finishes for the day. Popsy Gu, 22, a  private English tutor and year four finance student at the University of Hong Kong, volunteered to teach English classes for free.

“People in Hong Kong learn English in such an inefficient manner … The syllabuses are bad and we start learning grammar without knowing how to use English. We mostly learn it from school textbooks,” she says.

Gu spent about an hour, with an engaged crowd of some 50 people, pointing out common mistakes and explaining the meaning of words and expressions used by the English-language media covering the protests, like “umbrella revolution yet to unfold”, “insurgency” and “legitimacy.”

Gu’s motivation is simple: “I wanted to help with something I know.” She has also been running a blog  about the Occupy movement in Mong Kok.

Meanwhile, public forums continue at Hennessy Road, on the problems of the private housing market in Hong Kong and the relationship between public spaces and the democracy movement.

8.30pm Mong Kok: A large sign reading “against Occupy Central” and “against blocking of traffic” is hung over an arch right beside the main Occupy Mong Kok protest ground drawing curious glances from passers-by and demonstrators.

Protesters cheekily taped a mock FAQ on it teaching people how to respond to criticisms from Occupy opponents using famous gaffes and non-statements from government officials.

Photo: Ernest Kao

“You’re blocking roads and causing long queues for public transport,” one query read. The answer read “You can wait for another train” – a reference to commerce chief Greg So Kam-leung’s advice to Hongkongers in response to concerns over the flood of mainland tourists on the city’s transport infrastructure.

“I saw on TV news reports that a protester had been swearing at police officers, I thought this was a peaceful protest?” one question read.

The answer: “I have no comment on individual cases,” the answer read, a snub at Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying’s June 2013 interview with Bloomberg in which he gave the exact same answer seven times when asked about the extent of US cyber hacking activity in Hong Kong, exposed in light of the Edward Snowden saga.

8.15pm: Kindergarten classes in Wan Chai and Central and Western districts will resume tomorrow, the Education Bureau announces. Principal Assistant Secretary for Education Sophia Wong says during a press conference that, as primary and secondary school classes have resumed with fewer late-for-school cases, the bureau decided to allow kindergarten classes to resume, also.

7.50pm: Occupy Central organisers say they have no immediate plans to form an alliance with the Federation of Students, dropping a strong hint that Friday’s dialogue with the government would likely involve students only, not Occupy campaigners.

The students are preparing for the dialogue while Occupy provides them with opinion and lines up social groups in managing the occupied sites, says Dr Chan Kin-man, an Occupy organiser. “As of now, such a mode of cooperation is mutually acceptable to both sides,” Chan says.

“The students have considerable capability to handle the dialogue,” Chan says. “The HKFS is also willing to listen to Occupy’s views. The cooperation between [us] is very close.”

He also rebuffs Cardinal Joseph Zen’s call against a continued occupation, saying there should be no retreat “before the dialogue yields any result”.

The Federation of Students’ Lester Shum says the group is yet to agree whether the five representatives at the dialogue would include any non-members of the federation. Chan only says that the Occupy side is “very happy to provide assistance” given the scholarly background of its main organisers.

(Front left) Lester Shum, Founders of Occupy Central movement Chan Kin-man and Eason Chung meet the media at protest site in Admiralty. Photo: David Wong for the South China Morning Post

7.40pm: Guitar teacher Bernard Yim, 34, is jamming with other musicians at the protest site in Yee Wo Street, Causeway Bay.

“I’ve been coming to here, Admiralty and Mong Kok every day, and today, because of the autumn weather, instead of practicing guitar at home, I decided to practice outside,” he says.

Yim says he has few expectations of the negotiations between government officials and students.

“Those who have been coming out hold a strong belief that we should remain here,” he says.

Guitar teacher Bernard Yim plays at the protest site in Causeway Bay. Photo: Raquel Carvalho

7.25pm: Photos just in of the crowd near government headquarters at Admiralty tonight …

Protesters gather near government headquarters in Admiralty on Wednesday evening. Photo: K. Y. Cheng

7.15pm: Scholarism convenor Joshua Wong is distributing leaflets with other members of the student activist group outside Wan Chai MTR station to explain why roads have to be blocked to fight for genuine universal suffrage.

“Sorry about the [disturbances] in recent days,” says Wong as he hands outs leaflets to pedestrians.

Some reply saying “We support you” or “Keep it going” when they receive the leaflets.

But there are also passersby who refuse to take them.

The leaflets seek to answer 16 questions that the public might have about the civil disobedience action.

Joshua Wong distributes fliers. Photo: South China Morning Post.

7pm: Kindergartens in Wan Chai and Central and Western districts will resume classes tomorrow, says Principal Assistant Secretary of the Education Bureau Sophia Wong.

She says the bureau made the decision because kindergartens had made preparations such as diverting road traffic for picking up students and making arrangements with parents and “nanny buses”. Assistant Commissioner for Transport Albert Su says he expects traffic congestion to be more serious tomorrow because all the nanny buses and other vehicles for kindergarten children would return to the roads.

“We are very, very concerned about the traffic condition tomorrow,” says Su. “It’s possible that a very serious situation will occur.”

Su again appealed for the protesters to remove barriers blocking the city’s major roads. He adds that he respects the police’s decision to handle the situation through dialogue.

Central and Western District Officer Cheryl Chow says residents in Western District had to endure more difficulties to commute because there is no MTR connection in the area.

6.50pm: A group of some 20 North District residents has gathered outside Next Media boss Jimmy Lai Chee-ying’s home in Kowloon, a few kilometres from the Mong Kok protest site.

The anti-Occupy protesters hold banners accusing Lai of colluding with foreign governments. “When good old America comes up with a plan, the fat guy pays for it,” one sign reads, referring to Lai. Deng Ren-ming, 65, says that although pro-democracy protests were taking place far from where he and fellow protesters live, those who work in Kowloon and Hong Kong Island still feel the impact.

“The thing is we don’t know when it will end,” he says. “We also want to support those, for example, who live in Mong Kok and are affected.”

Asked why the group chose Lai’s house to stage the protest, he says: “It’s all written on the banners.”

“Whether it is as what the banners suggest, Lai should come out and explain,” he says.

The group leaves after half an hour when police arrive at the scene.

Anti-Occupy protesters target Jimmy Lai’s house. Photo: Chris Lau

The group accused Lai of colluding with foreign governments. Photo: Chris Lau


Russia plans state controls in case of internet crisis

September 22, 2014

From the BBC

Internet cafe in Yekaterinburg

Internet cafe in Yekaterinburg: Russians rely on many foreign servers and website hosts

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Russia is making plans to ensure state control over the country’s internet traffic in a national emergency, Russian media report.

War or an Arab Spring-style uprising would class as such an emergency.

Plans for boosting cyber security are reported to be under discussion in Russia’s Security Council. They include a back-up in case Russia is cut off from the internet, Vedomosti news says.

Russia currently relies heavily on foreign hosting of websites.

When asked about the special meeting a Kremlin spokesman, Dmitry Peskov, said US and European actions recently “have been marked by a fair degree of unpredictability, and we have to be ready for anything”.

Western sanctions imposed over the Ukraine conflict now target many senior Russian officials, as well as Russia’s oil industry, arms manufacturers and state banks.

Western leaders accuse Russia of destabilising Ukraine by supplying soldiers and heavy weapons to separatist forces there.

Russia’s Communications Minister Nikolai Nikiforov said that “recently Russia has come up against the one-sided language of sanctions.

“In these conditions we are working on scenarios in which our respected partners suddenly decide to cut us off from the internet.”

In January 2011 the Egyptian state blocked internet traffic inside the country after opposition groups organised protests through social media, especially on Facebook and Twitter.

Infrastructure changes

Experts interviewed by Vedomosti said a Russian federal body such as Rossvyaz, in charge of communications, could take over as administrator of internet domains.

Rossvyaz would then have direct control over the country’s domains such as those ending in .ru or .rf and service providers in Russia’s regions would be subordinate to it.

It is not clear how tighter state control over the web infrastructure in Russia would affect relations with US-based Icann, the organisation that governs internet domains internationally.

Mr Nikiforov said his ministry had held exercises with the defence ministry and FSB intelligence service to prepare for a scenario in which Russia was deprived of internet connections.

Keir Giles, a London-based expert on Russian cyber security, says the FSB has been given new internet surveillance powers since American whistleblower Edward Snowden exposed the scale of secret US monitoring of internet traffic.

According to the news website, the Russian authorities are also considering bundling the country’s internet connections into big nodes which can be monitored more easily.

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