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Monday, October 3, 2022

Canada granted asylum for Sri Lankans who sheltered Edward Snowden in Hong Kong

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Four Sri Lankan refugees who hid Edward Snowden in their tiny Hong Kong apartments when he was on the run after exposing NSA spying landed in Canada on Tuesday (21) where they were granted asylum, ending years in limbo.

Supun Thilina Kellapatha and Nadeeka Dilrukshi Nonis touched down in Toronto with their children Sethumdi and Dinath and were due to go on to Montreal to “start their new lives,” non-profit For the Refugees said in a statement.

The family were part of a group of seven poverty-stricken refugees from Sri Lanka and the Philippines living in Hong Kong who nonetheless agreed to shelter Snowden after his bombshell revelations in 2013.

Vanessa Rodel, from the Philippines, and her daughter Keana were granted asylum in Canada in 2019 with the help of For the Refugees, who have lobbied Canada to take in the others, arguing they faced persecution both in their homeland and in Hong Kong because they helped Snowden.

Kellapatha’s family had faced deportation after their initial refugee claims in Hong Kong were rejected.

He spoke of his relief at finally finding a place of permanent sanctuary.

“I’m so happy this is over. I’m so happy to be going to Canada,” the South China Morning Post quoted him as saying before he and his family boarded a plane 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.”

Snowden welcomed the news of the family’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 army deserter Ajith Pushpakumara, remains in Hong Kong, where “his safety is still at risk,” according to For the Refugees, which renewed its call for Ottawa to expedite his asylum claim.

“We are happy with the end result — at least for six of the seven,” For the Refugees president Marc-Andre Seguin told 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. We are asking that Canada (again) do the right thing and admit the last of Snowden’s Guardian Angels before it’s too late,” he said.

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