Hong Kong rejects asylum claims of group that hid Snowden

Lucy Bush
May 16, 2017

Three families that sheltered United States whistleblower Edward Snowden when he was hiding in Hong Kong in 2013 are facing possible detention and deportation from the city after their claims for asylum were officially rejected, their lawyer said Monday.

Tibbo, a Canadian barrister who provided legal advice to Snowden when he was in the city in 2013, says the decision to reject applications of three families that sheltered Snowden was "unreasonable" and said Hong Kong authorities deliberately expedited their cases, CNN reported.

"Three weeks ago, we heard from Canadian authorities that the files have been transferred from Canada to the visa office of the Canadian consulate in Hong Kong", Séguin added.

His whereabouts were a mystery during that time and it was not until previous year that the role Tibbo and his clients played in sheltering Snowden was revealed.

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"We now have less than two weeks to submit appeals before the families are deported", said Tibbo alongside the refugees, who were visibly distressed. They have also applied for refugee status in Canada.

Their lawyers and some city legislators have said two of the Sri Lankan refugees have been targeted by agents from their home country who traveled to Hong Kong.

The Hong Kong government "has repeatedly tried to question the four adults about their involvement with Mr. Snowden".

There are about 10,000 asylum seekers in Hong Kong. He claimed that when the refugees refused to answer, their social assistance payments for rent and food were cut off.

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The case affects a Filipino woman, Vanessa Mae Rodel, and her four-year-old daughter, Ajith Pushpakumara, as well a Sri Lankan soldier, Supun Thilina Kellapatha, his wife, Nadeeka Dilrukshi Nonis, and their two children. "For example, about how long had Mr. Snowden been staying with them, what was Mr. Snowden's movement in the territory, which is irrelevant to the (asylum) claims", the lawyer said.

Two of the Sri Lankan refugees say they are being illegally pursued by police from their own country who travelled to Hong Kong in late 2016.

Hong Kong is not a signatory to the United Nations Refugees Convention.

The decision comes eight months after the release of the Oliver Stone movie "Snowden", which highlighted how the families had helped the world's most famous fugitive. "It's very hard for me". And our promise to you is that we will always strive to provide indispensable journalism to our community.

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