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Families who sheltered fugitive Snowden looking for fast-track asylum to Canada

Families who sheltered fugitive Snowden looking for fast-track asylum to Canada

Families who sheltered fugitive Snowden looking for fast-track asylum to Canada

The Hong Kong government has rejected the petition for asylum of a Filipino woman who was among four people who first helped shelter USA whistleblower Edward Snowden, said a BBC report Monday.

The lawyers for the asylum-seekers - three of them from Sri Lanka - had housed Snowden for two weeks when he first fled the USA after leaking thousands of files he had access to as a contractor for the National Security Agency.

The families' legal team say they will appeal the decision.

However, immigration authorities rejected their protection claims Monday saying there were "no substantial grounds" for believing they would be at risk if they went home. "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.

The watchdog stressed that the lawyers were now seeking asylum for Snowden's support givers in Canada.

"We now have less than two weeks to submit appeals before the families are deported", said Tibbo alongside the refugees, who were visibly distressed.

His clients now face deportation, as well as the risk they would be "detained and their children placed in government custody".

His whereabouts during the two weeks in Hong Kong remained unknown until fairly recently.

"If he asks again, he wants my help, I would say yes again", Rodel says.

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Stories and photographs of the asylum-seekers have been published worldwide, including in Sri Lanka and the Philippines, where they fear persecution.

The leaked classified information revealed details of widespread surveillance activities by the United States government.

Their stories only emerged late previous year.

As well as Rodel and Pushpakumara, the group includes a Sri Lankan couple with two young children. Each says that returning to their homeland is too unsafe, and that they fear persecution.

It was not until past year that the role Tibbo and his clients played in sheltering Snowden was revealed.

After just over a month in Hong Kong, Snowden boarded a flight to Russian Federation, where he has since been granted asylum. Refugees are screened and then referred to the United Nations, that can then resettle them in a safe third country.

But with fewer than one percent of cases successfully substantiated by city authorities, most refugees live in fear of deportation.

Hong Kong's rejection of the group "puts them in an even more vulnerable position, and triggers a need for urgent protection", says Marc-André Séguin, one of the Canadian attorneys representing the group in the country. Tribbo called the decision to reject their asylum claims "unreasonable".

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