Hong Kong enforces extradition laws more than other jurisdictions in Southeast Asia, Mr. Acton-Bond said. But Hong Kong did not follow Britain’s example after the Sept. 11 attacks of lowering the standard of legal evidence required before an extradition to the United States is approved. Hong Kong also has legal protections against politically motivated extradition cases, but they have seldom been invoked....
Mr. Snowden, a 29-year-old computer technician, has said that he had access to lists of all American agents overseas and other information, but that he did not take all of the data....Snowden said that he was careful about choosing what to release and that he chose not to hurt any particular individuals:
"I carefully evaluated every single document I disclosed to ensure that each was legitimately in the public interest... There are all sorts of documents that would have made a big impact that I didn't turn over, because harming people isn't my goal. Transparency is."But in revealing that he has more and could hurt American agents, he is building up his bargaining position.
Back to the first-linked article (in the NYT):
While Mr. Snowden — or possibly his personal computer — might be a valuable prize for China’s intelligence agencies, experts were skeptical that China would risk harming relations with the United States by exercising its legal authority to block an extradition request from the Justice Department.So Snowden's choice of Hong Kong was — at least implicitly — pressuring the U.S. not to seek extradition, because once China puts its hands on him, they have their hands on that laptop, with all those names or whatever it was that he took when he "did not take all of the data."
“I don’t think he’s a big enough fish that Beijing would try to intervene to affect the decision of the Hong Kong authorities one way or the other,” said Willy Lam, a specialist in Chinese government decision-making at the Chinese University of Hong Kong.He's not a big enough fish? How big can a fish get?!