They allowed the incredible escape of Edward Snowden. Four asylum seekers, Ajith Pushpakumara, Supun Kellapatha, Nadeeka Dilrukshi and Vanessa Rodel, welcomed Hong Kong's most famous whistleblower in his June 2013 run. Tibbo, who had the idea to hide the former contract of the US National Security Agency (NSA) where no one would think to go looking for it: within the refugee community of Hong Kong. A despised community that lives off the rest of society in this sprawling megalopolis.
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For thirteen days, as the US government and the secret services of various countries hunt down the young computer scientist, who has just revealed the biggest surveillance scandal of all time, these refugees shelter him and feed him in their tiny apartments.
Edward Snowden explains to France 24 that he owes his life to these extraordinary allies, who could have delivered him to the authorities at any time: "They could have written an email to the CIA and received a huge check, or to obtain asylum in exchange and they would have had no problem, but they would have done it by digging the grave of someone ... For that, I will be eternally grateful to them ".
But since the role they played in the Snowden run was revealed, including in the movie "Snowden" of the American director Oliver Stone, released in 2016, these refugees suffer retaliation from the Hong Kong authorities. On several occasions they were arrested and interrogated. Their social assistance has been cut off and they are now living with fear, under the threat of being arrested and expelled at any time to their country of origin, Sri Lanka, where they risk persecution and imprisonment, or even death. All have sought asylum in Canada.
The request of one of them, Vanessa Rodel, from the Philippines, was recently accepted and the mother now lives safely with her daughter Keana in Montreal. But Keana's father, Supun Kellapatha, stayed in Hong Kong with his two other children, Sethumdi, 7, and Dinath, 3. All suffer from this painful separation.
Snowden calls Ottawa to help its benefactors
Vanessa and the "Snowden Refugee" lawyers are asking for help from Ottawa to welcome them to Canada as well, stressing the "urgency" of welcoming the friends who remained in Hong Kong in a precarious situation. But the Canadian authorities seem to be turning a deaf ear. According to refugee lawyers, Canada is under pressure from the United States, which is still after Edward Snowden for his revelations that caused a global earthquake.
"Contrary to UN directives and Canadian legislation on the reunification of refugee families, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has broken a family", accuses one of their lawyer, Robert Tibbo, who continues: "This attitude from Trudeau was dictated by US President Donald Trump ".
From Moscow, Russia, where he was granted asylum until 2020, Edward Snowden wants to help his benefactors. On France 24, he calls on the Canadian authorities: "Please protect these families, welcome them to Canada, they are some of the best of us on this planet and they need your help" .
Director Oliver Stone also wrote a letter to Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. On France 24, he explains: "The 'Snowden refugees' who have remained in Hong Kong are experiencing two nightmares: the first is to be sent back to Sri Lanka, where they will face torture and death. is currently in Hong Kong, where the government is persecuting them, Mr. Trudeau continues to delay the reception of his families in Canada, including two stateless children, who are the same age as Trudeau's children and should be brought back to safety. reunited with their sister Keana in Montreal ".
From Hong Kong, where they still live in misery, the group of refugees dreams of a new life in Canada: Supun and Nadeeka would like to "work for an NGO to help other refugees", while Ajith would see well "wood craftsman in Quebec". Even if they now consider paying a high price for the help given to the one who has become Washington's pet peeve, the "guardian angels of Snowden" say they regret nothing.
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