MANILA – The Hong Kong government has rejected the petition for asylum of a Filipino woman who was among four people who first helped shelter US whistleblower Edward Snowden, said a BBC report Monday. The asylum bids of the three others were similarly rejected, in a move that one lawyer called “unreasonable.”
The lawyers for the asylum-seekers – three of them from Sri Lanka – had housed Snowden for two weeks when he first fled the US after leaking thousands of files he had access to as a contractor for the National Security Agency. The leaked classified information revealed details of widespread surveillance activities by the US government.
According to the BBC report quoting one lawyer, the asylum applications were rejected because the countries of the four people were deemed safe. The lawyer called the denial of asylum “unreasonable”. Earlier reports had said the Sri Lankans in the group had complained they were being hunted down by the Sri Lankan police, who had pursued them in Hong Kong in 2016, and could not return to their country.
The group has 14 days to appeal.
Filipino Vanessa Rodel, along with a Sri Lankan couple and a Sri Lankan man, met Snowden through their lawyer, Robert Tibbo, who brought the NSA whistleblower to their homes in 2013, said the BBC report.
The BBC quoted Marc-Andre Seguin, a Canadian lawyer helping the asylum seekers for their separate applications with Canada, as saying the Sri Lankans and Rodel might have been targeted by HK immigration. He noted that the decisions to reject them came at the same time even though they live apart from each other and submitted asylum petitions “years apart from one another.”