Hong Kong rejects asylum for refugees who sheltered Snowden

Hong Kong authorities have rejected asylum requests from refugees who harbored whistleblower and former National Security Agency (NSA) contractor Edward Snowden in 2013.

After leaving his initial Hong Kong hotel bolthole for fear of being discovered, Snowden went underground, fed and looked after by the refugees for around two weeks. "I am very anxious".

A non-profit group is attempting to raise the estimated $15,000 to cover the appeals.

Asylum requests by Sri Lankan refugees who sheltered Snowden in Hong Kong rejected Mon, May 15, 2017, 07:19 pm SL Time, ColomboPage News Desk, Sri Lanka. He noted that the decisions to reject them came at the same time even though they live apart from each other and submitted asylum petitions "years apart from one another". "And the families could be returned to the very places where they faced torture or worse". "I know that from the moment I arrive at the airport [in Sri Lanka] my life will be at risk", said one of the immigrants, Ajith Pushpakumara, a former Sri iLankan soldier. The Hong Kong government denied this accusation.

In 2014, only 0.5% of asylum claimants were successful in being granted protection status.

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Tibbo said he has "no regrets" about his decision to introduce the families to Snowden.

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

Authorities have transferred the applications to the Canadian Consulate in Hong Kong and Canada's minister of immigration has confirmed the urgency of the matter, say the lawyers. So far only these cases have received a speedy decision from immigration officials - issued last Thursday - in a sign they have been targeted by authorities, he claimed. They have two weeks to file.

"The solution is Canada", he said, adding the country is one of a handful of jurisdictions that permit a review of refugee applications from people who haven't been screened by the United Nations.

Hong Kong's 11,000 marginalised refugees spend years in limbo, hoping the government will eventually support their claims. Fearing that that Snowden could face rendition back to the USA if he was located, Tibbo placed him in the care of the asylum seekers, reasoning that their apartments were among the last places anyone would look for the data leaker.

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  • Sonia Alvarado