Hong Kong denies protection to refugees who helped Snowden

The impoverished Philippine and Sri Lankan refugees helped the former National Security Agency contractor evade authorities in 2013 by hiding him in their cramped homes after he initiated one of the largest data leaks in U.S. history.

"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.

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 refugees have said previously they were specifically asked about their links to Snowden by Hong Kong authorities. A Sri Lankan couple with two children, a former Sri Lankan soldier, and a mother from the Philippines allowed Snowden to hide in their cramped apartments for several days.


Human Rights Watch also urged the Canadian government to "intervene swiftly and protect them" following the rejection of their petitions in Hong Kong.

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

"They could be arrested any time, the children could be separated from their parents", Snowden said in the video.

In a statement to CNN, the Hong Kong government said it believes that "there are 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". 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.

Immigration authorities issued the decision on Thursday and informed the group of seven on Friday, according to Robert Tibbo, an attorney representing them.


It also denied that the government has singled the families out for expedited screening, saying the accusation is "unfounded and not true".

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

Three other adult applicants are from Sri Lanka.

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.

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



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