29 September (WNN) — The Canadian government has granted asylum and accepted four Hong Kong men who helped American whistleblower Edward Snowden go into hiding nearly a decade ago after fleeing the United States for leaking secret intelligence documents.
The family allowed Snowden, a former Defense and National Security Agency contractor, to stay in their Hong Kong apartment when he was a fugitive in 2013.
In Ottawa, the government formally granted asylum to the four – Supun Thilina Kelapatha, Nadeka Dilrukshi Nonis and their children Sethumadi and Deenath – and they reached Toronto late Tuesday night. They plan to settle in Montreal.
The Sri Lankan family has been going through a period of uncertainty for years. Kelapath said he was tortured at Snowden’s residence in Sri Lanka and the family was denied asylum in Hong Kong in 2017.
“After more than a decade, they can now begin building new lives in Canada, reunited with the rest of their family and free from the constant fear and anxiety that are high-profile in Hong Kong. mark their existence as asylum seekers,” André Seguin, president of the aid group for the Mark Refugees, said in a statement.
Vanessa Rodale and daughter Keane, who is also Kelaptha’s daughter, were granted asylum in Canada in 2019. Another refugee, Ajit Pushpakumara, is still in Hong Kong.
Seguin urged the Canadian government to “eliminate red tape” and process Pushpakumara’s application.
Snowden fled the United States in 2013 after leaking several classified documents detailing the NSA’s domestic surveillance activities that were implemented after the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks. He initially sought asylum in Hong Kong, but unsuccessfully fled to Russia. He still lives in Russia and is still wanted in the United States for leaking documents.
Snowden has said he would like to return to the United States, but will do so only if he is guaranteed a fair trial.