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Families who sheltered fugitive Snowden looking for fast-track asylum to Canada


The seven people - four adults and their three children - allegedly helped hide Snowden when the fugitive was in the region in 2013 after he leaked documents revealing extensive USA government surveillance. During that time they may be detained and the children placed in foster care.

The people who sheltered Edward Snowden in Hong Kong have had their requests for asylum there rejected. The applicants are from the Philippines and Sri Lanka.

Snowden hid out in Hong Kong for two weeks in June 2013 after he leaked documents revealing extensive US government surveillance.

Snowden was brought to stay with the families in 2013 when he was on the run from the U.S. government, because Tibbo says he thought it would be the last place the authorities would look for him.

Details of how Snowden managed to lay low in the Asian metropolis had remained obscure until a year ago, when the asylum seekers' role came to light in Oliver Stone's movie Snowden, and the details were disclosed in Canada's National Post.

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 United States history.

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

As well as Rodel and Pushpakumara, the group includes a Sri Lankan couple with two young children.

Police from three states hunt for Justice Karnan
Advocate Mathews J Nedumpara, who mentioned the plea before the apex court bench, was asked by J S Khehar about his whereabouts. Calcutta High Court judge Justice C S Karnan on Thursday sought relief from the Supreme Court in the contempt of court matter.

Hong Kong-based attorney Robert Tibbo said Canada needs to take this "exceptional" step and allow the seven people to enter the country after the Hong Kong government rejected their asylum applications last Friday. "For example, about how long had Mr. Snowden been staying with them, what was Mr. Snowden's movement in the territory, which is irrelevant to the (asylum) claims", he said.

"We now have less than two weeks to submit appeals before the families are deported", Mr Tibbo said. They have two weeks to file.

"If he asks again, he wants my help, I would say yes again", Rodel says.

After government screening, claimants found to be at risk of persecution are referred to the UN's refugee agency, which can try to resettle them to a safe third country.

The refugees also applied for asylum in Canada. Less than one percent of refugees succeed in their efforts, leaving around 11,000 now in limbo and constant fear of deportation.

And they are asking Canadians to support the effort.

The migrants "now find themselves at dire risk if sent back to their countries", said Dinah PoKempner, general counsel at Human Rights Watch.

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