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 seven people - four adults and their three children - allegedly helped hide Snowden when the fugitive was in the region in 2013 after he leaked documents revealing extensive USA government surveillance.

Three immigrant families who housed Edward Snowden in Hong Kong in 2013 had their asylum claims rejected, their lawyer said Monday.

Another of the refugees, Ajith Pushpakumara from Sri Lanka, told AFP the government had "taken his whole life" with the decision.

At the time, Snowden was one of the world's most wanted men, fleeing the US after leaking thousands of classified files that exposed extensive USA surveillance.

Immigration authorities issued the decision on Thursday and informed the group of seven on Friday, according to Robert Tibbo, an attorney representing them. However, previous year the media discovered Snowden was aided by the impoverished group of refugees and advised by their current legal councilor, Robert Tibbo. In October 2016, Sri Lankan Criminal Investigation Department officers were in Hong Kong trying to locate the asylum-seekers, showing their photographs to people there.

Canadian barrister Tibbo said that the Hong Kong authorities were not complying with their worldwide obligations.

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.

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"The first thing on my mind is I don't want to be detained and I don't want me and my daughter to separate", she told AFP.

The Hong Kong government said in a statement that asylum claims are handled in a "fair, impartial and efficient manner", and that it found "no substantial grounds for believing that the claimants, if returned to their country of origin, will be subject to real and substantial risk of danger". At the time, two of the Sri Lankans reported of being pursued by police from Sri Lanka.

"We now have less than two weeks to submit appeals before the families are deported".

The group that helped to hide Snowden also applied for asylum in Canada. Less than one percent of refugees succeed in their efforts, leaving around 11,000 now in limbo and constant fear of deportation.

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

Hong Kong's 11,000 marginalized refugees spend years in limbo, hoping the government will eventually support their claims.

The migrants "now find themselves at dire risk if sent back to their countries", said Dinah PoKempner, general counsel at Human Rights Watch.

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