RTL Today – New lives: Four refugees who sheltered Snowden find sanctuary in Canada

4 Sri Lankan refugees who hid Edward Snowden of their tiny Hong Kong residences when he was on the run after exposing NSA spying landed in Canada on Tuesday the place they have been granted asylum, ending years in limbo.

Supun Thilina Kellapatha and Nadeeka Dilrukshi Nonis touched down in Toronto with their kids Sethumdi and Dinath and have been as a result of go on to Montreal to “start their new lives,” non-profit For the Refugees mentioned in an announcement.

The household have been a part of a gaggle of seven poverty-stricken refugees from Sri Lanka and the Philippines dwelling in Hong Kong who nonetheless agreed to shelter Snowden after his bombshell revelations in 2013.

Vanessa Rodel, from the Philippines, and her daughter Keana have been granted asylum in Canada in 2019 with the assistance of For the Refugees, who’ve lobbied Canada to soak up the others, arguing they confronted persecution each of their homeland and in Hong Kong as a result of they helped Snowden.

Kellapatha’s household had confronted deportation after their preliminary refugee claims in Hong Kong have been rejected.

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He spoke of his reduction at lastly discovering a spot of everlasting sanctuary.

“I’m so happy this is over. I’m so happy to be going to Canada,” the South China Morning Submit quoted him as saying earlier than he and his household boarded a aircraft in Hong Kong.

“We have a new life, our children now have a future. We’re so grateful right now. Really, I am speechless… The kids are so happy. I’m so grateful.”

– ‘Another’ –

Snowden welcomed the information of the household’s arrival in Canada.

“This is the best news I’ve heard in a long, long time,” he wrote on Twitter.

“We need to bring one more home before we can say we’re done, but I cannot thank you enough for bringing us this far,” he added.

A seventh member of the group, Sri Lankan military deserter Ajith Pushpakumara, stays in Hong Kong, the place “his safety is still at risk,” in line with For the Refugees, which renewed its name for Ottawa to expedite his asylum declare.

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“We are happy with the end result — at least for six of the seven,” For the Refugees president Marc-Andre Seguin instructed AFP.

“Although we welcome the arrival and start of a new chapter in the lives of this family of four, we cannot ignore that Ajith has stayed behind,” he mentioned.

“We are asking that Canada (again) do the right thing and admit the last of Snowden’s Guardian Angels before it’s too late.”

– ‘On their own’-

Robert Tibbo, Pushpakumara’s lawyer in Canada, mentioned his consumer has a pending utility with Canadian immigration.

“The difficulty here is that Ajith is all alone right now and he’s questioning why his case is taking so long,” he instructed AFP.

Tibbo himself left Hong Kong in 2017, saying he feared for his security after representing the Snowden refugees within the Chinese language enterprise hub.

Snowden revealed 1000’s of categorized paperwork exposing huge US surveillance put in place after the September 11, 2001 assaults.

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He ended up stranded in Hong Kong as media revealed his findings, initially in a resort, surrounded by journalists from across the globe.

The group of refugees agreed to shelter him for about two weeks till he may fly to Russia, the place he now lives.

Their position within the saga was solely revealed in a 2016 Oliver Stone movie about Snowden, which left them in “constant fear and worry” in Hong Kong, mentioned For the Refugees.

It additionally highlighted the plight of refugees in Hong Kong, which has one of many lowest asylum approval charges on the planet.

Solely round one p.c of claims are granted and the tiny fraction of claimants which can be authorised should get final sanctuary in a 3rd nation.

Whereas instances drag on for years, asylum candidates usually are not allowed to work and obtain a stipend of simply HK$3,000 ($385) a month in what is likely one of the world’s least reasonably priced cities.