The asylum seekers who housed US whistle-blower Edward Snowden in Hong Kong in 2013 have had their protection claims rejected by the city. Now they are asking the Canadian government to help. The Canadian consulate in Hong Kong is already handling the cases, after refugee claims were filed in Canada on their behalf in January.
Four adults and three children – Vanessa Mae Rodel from the Philippines, and her daughter, aged four; Ajith Pushpakumara, a former soldier from Sri Lanka; and a family from the same country, Supun Thilina Kellapatha, his wife Nadeeka Dilrukshi Nonis and their two children – gave Snowden, a former NSA contractor, a place to stay in 2013.
Read HKU graduate Gloria Cheung's Human Rights Press Award-winning essay on Edward Snowden and surveillance
They housed Snowden for about two weeks, hiding him in their tiny homes while he was being hunted for one of the largest data leaks in history. Now they could be sent back to their home countries.
An emotional Rodel said she hoped Canada would take them in.
“I hope the Canadian government can help us and that we can be resettled there soon, so we can all be safe,” she said.
Marc-André Séguin, one of the lawyers involved in the application to Canada, said that the Hong Kong government’s decisions was “grossly unfair”. He called on the Canadian government to process their applications quickly.
“Given these rejections, the refugees are now more vulnerable than ever and in urgent need of protection,” Seguin said. He described Canada as their “last hope”.
Séguin also urged Canada to give the group temporary protection while their cases are being processed.
In support of the case, Human Rights Watch said on Monday: “Canada has the opportunity to prevent a terrible outcome and should act immediately.”