A woman holds a placard during a protest march to the U.S. consulate in support of Edward Snowden on Saturday in Hong Kong.(Photo: Philippe Lopez, AFP/Getty Images)
HONG KONG - The Hong Kong government is investigating allegations made by a whistle-blower that the U.S. National Security Agency hacked into its computers.
In an interview with the South China Morning Post this week, Edward Snowden said that since 2009, the National Security Agency has made secret attacks on computers belonging to Hong Kong officials, universities, businesses and students with a success rate of more than 75%.
Snowden, 29, fled to Hong Kong with a trove of classified material he allegedly stole from his job for a consulting firm doing work for the NSA. His claims about NSA hacking in Hong Kong helped galvanize hundreds of residents to march in protest Saturday to the U.S. Consulate General.
"The government will follow up on any incidents related to the privacy or other rights of institutions or people in Hong Kong being violated," said C.Y. Leung, Hong Kong's chief executive.
STORY: Hundreds in Hong Kong protest NSA surveillance
In comments addressing speculation the U.S. will make a request for Snowden's extradition, Leung said in his first direct remarks on the case, "When the relevant mechanism is activated, the government will handle the case of Mr. Snowden in accordance with the laws and established procedures of Hong Kong."
Leung had previously avoided commenting on the case since Snowden came forward as the man behind the leaking of NSA surveillance programs one week ago.
A number of Hong Kong legislators are planning to raise Snowden's allegations of U.S. hacking into Hong Kong computers with government ministers at a session on Wednesday. Some are urging the government to press Washington for answers about the hacking and others have sent messages raising their concerns directly.
"If (Snowden's) claims are proven to be true, he is definitely to be admired for his courage and resolve," said legislator Charles Mok in a commentary broadcast on Radio Television Hong Kong. However, he also noted the allegations "so far are noticeably lacking in details or evidence."