The ever-expanding National Security Agency PRISM scandal has raised a host of philosophical questions about government, freedom and privacy. But one question has been on many people's minds that has less to do with big ideas and more to do with practical ones: How did self-confessed leaker/whistleblower Edward Snowden think he was going to escape prosecution by Uncle Sam after he revealed details of the secret government surveillance program?
The answer, apparently, was by fleeing to a country with no extradition treaty with the United States: The former CIA employee and NSA contractor is currently hiding out in Hong Kong. But the ex-intelligence man would have been smart to do a little more research before going on the lam: Hong Kong may not be quite the sanctuary he'd hoped for.
In some ways, Hong Kong is a great place to hide out. While technically, it has an extradition agreement with the U.S., the treaty was signed in 1996, a year before Great Britain transferred control of Hong Kong to China. Since the U.S. doesn't have an extradition agreement with China, it's possible that Snowden may be able to stay there. Certainly, it's a better bet than his original destination, Iceland, a country that has an unambiguous extradition pact with the U.S.
In the grand scheme of things, however, Snowden would have been better served heading to a country with a more clear-cut non-extradition policy. Unfortunately, most countries that refuse to cooperate with the U.S. government are Communist dictatorships, theocracies, failed states, or are otherwise less than ideal. But there are a few hidden gems among them.
In 2010, during the heyday of the post-financial crash Wall Street witch hunt, I compiled a list of the most attractive places to flee to if you happened to be, for example, a Goldman Sachs employee with a few bags of money and a desire to avoid subpoenas or possible criminal charges. Three years later, the list is still worth a peek, especially if you happen to be a U.S. government whistleblower who doesn't want to spend the rest of his days in Fort Leavenworth.
Here are the highlights:
Bruce Watson is DailyFinance's Savings editor. You can reach him by e-mail at email@example.com, or follow him on Twitter at @bruce1971.
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