Hong Kong Denied Asylum to Families Who Helped Snowden

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closeup of the hand of a young man with a piece of paper with the word asylum, with a dramatic effect
The families that helped hide Edward Snowden following the infamous NSA surveillance data leak in 2013 have been denied asylum by the Hong Kong government.

Four years have passed since Edward Snowden orchestrated one of the largest data breaches in recent history, but cases related to the 2013 U.S. National Security Agency (NSA) breach are still developing.

Seven refugees who helped hide Edward Snowden have recently been denied asylum by Hong Kong.

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Ajith Pushpakumara, Supun Thilina Kellapatha, Nadeeka Dilrukshi Nonis and a family of four from Sri Lanka had their applications rejected by the government.

Vanessa Mae Rodel from the Philippines also faces deportation alongside the Sri Lankans.

The refugees hid Edward Snowden for two weeks when he fled the U.S. having leaked thousands of documents exposing the NSA’s global surveillance program.

Their Canadian lawyer, Robert Tibbo, told CNN the government’s decision is based on the asylum seekers’ relationship with Edward Snowden.

He claims that the refugees arrived in Hong Kong at different times and submitted their asylum applications separately.

According to him, the cases have little in common if the Edward Snowden relationship is not factored in.

As per the immigration department, there are currently nearly 9,000 cases of asylum seekers awaiting decisions. Unfortunately, Hong Kong has a history of unfavorable decisions against asylum seekers.

However, this has not stopped the refugees’ lawyers from claiming that these asylum seekers are being singled out by the government because of their connection to Edward Snowden.

A Hong Kong government spokesperson denied these allegations.

Tibbo was Edward Snowden’s primary advisor when the whistleblower arrived in Hong Kong back in 2013. He approached the Sri Lankans and enlisted their help in hiding Edward Snowden.

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Edward Snowden spent a few days in Ajith’s flat in the western side of the region before moving to Supun and Nadeeka’s cramped flat in a residential area in Kowloon.

He also spent some time in Rodel’s small one-bedroom home located in Sham Shui Po neighborhood.

All the refugees have stated that they consented to help Edward Snowden and were happy with their decisions even though they were justifiably nervous at first.

Their lawyer shared these sentiments and stated that he does not regret that decision. Tibbo referred to the Hong Kong Immigration Department as completely unreasonable.

ASYLUM word concept
Four years have passed since Edward Snowden orchestrated one of the largest data breaches in recent history, but cases related to the 2013 U.S. National Security Agency (NSA) breach are still developing.

He cited numerous factual errors and stated that the authorities were attempting to force the refugees out of the city.

He added that the decision to deny them asylum was already made a long time ago.

Authorities began taking a special interest in the group after their involvement with Edward Snowden became known to the public in 2016.

This happened just as Oliver Stone’s film, ‘Snowden,’ premiered in September.

At the time, the refugees’ lawyers hoped that the media attention would help them gain protection and safe haven in the area.

It seems that this was not to be so. Information then surfaced that Sri Lankan criminal investigators had traveled to Hong Kong and were searching for the asylum seekers.

According to Tibbo, police agents showed photos of the refugees to Sri Lankans in Hong Kong with hopes of apprehending them.

Sri Lankan police denied these allegations with the spokesperson, Priyantha Jayakodi, calling the allegations a complete lie.

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It is worth noting that authorities from mainland China or any other country do not have any jurisdiction in Hong Kong.

Tibbo claimed the evidence was provided by the Sri Lankans living in the region.

The asylum seekers have 14 days to appeal the immigration department decision before they are deported. The refugees submitted an application to Canada and are represented by Marc-Andre Seguin.

Seguin also reiterated that the refugees were being targeted due to the Edward Snowden factor. He emphasized the possibility that asylum in Canada is their last option.

Human Rights Watch General Counsel, Dinah Pokempner, has stated that Canada can now prevent a terrible outcome by granting asylum to the families.

Edward Snowden himself has also come out in strong support of the refugees who aided him and has called for Canada to make the right decision.

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3 COMMENTS

  1. Hong Kong is smart! They keep people they don’t want out! The USA is stupid! We immigrate hordes of welfare cases and outright enemies of the USA!

  2. As a Canadian all I can say is I hope they come here! My neighbor down the street is a refugee from Syria and I talk to him everyday walk down the street. He’s sponsored by private citizens and is lucky to have his wife son and child here. His son is a Doctor so that does help the application. Canada wants refugees but we still know they’re people like you and me. I just hope all the angels get saved from distress and given the option to come to Canada. And I know deep down if these people are just and right… and if the judge is which if you’ve ever been to as many court dates as a supporter as I have you’d know are just people too some good some bad. I truly believe Canada is generally tolerant happy place to live and maybe it’s the fearless cold that reminds you of the summers peace. I’m obviously a huge love fest and not everyone here is… But we’re all Jesus and we’re all Hitler inside of us we decide where that lands. I believe in collective thought being strong why do you think man has constantly manipulated religion for power, take back spirituality and believe in yourself cause you can be good if you make a conscious effort at changing your life. So if you agree let’s try something together let’s think of these people and send them positive energy. Go Canada who’s stereotypes are just the majority of the country’s attitude. Polite. Trust me I’ve traveled all over it it’s huge and our population is low 36 million on purpose it’s hard it’s survival in paradise. We should really start treating people with respect and stop judging each other. All these people did was help someone who was a criminal for wrong reasons. Man society’s fucked so let’s make a difference starting with ourselves. Patience is lazzyness without sacrifice.

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