Asylum for families that sheltered Snowden rejected

Asylum seekers from left Vanessa Mae Rodel and daughter Keana Nadeeka Dilrukshi Nonis and her son Dinath stand during a press conference outside the building of Hong Kong's immigration department in Hong Kong Monday

Asylum seekers from left Vanessa Mae Rodel and daughter Keana Nadeeka Dilrukshi Nonis and her son Dinath stand during a press conference outside the building of Hong Kong's immigration department in Hong Kong Monday

Three families that sheltered USA whistleblower Edward Snowden when he was hiding in Hong Kong in 2013 are facing possible detention and deportation from the city after their claims for asylum were officially rejected, their lawyer said Monday.

However, Hong Kong deems those countries to be safe, the groups' lawyer Robert Tibbo said on Monday.

The lawyers for the asylum-seekers - three of them from Sri Lanka - had housed Snowden for two weeks when he first fled the United States after leaking thousands of files he had access to as a contractor for the National Security Agency.

Four years ago, they took Snowden into their cramped Hong Kong apartments when he was trying to evade authorities after carrying out one of the biggest intelligence thefts in United States history, releasing thousands of classified documents, including information on USA surveillance programs around the world. However, previous year the media discovered Snowden was aided by the impoverished group of refugees and advised by their current legal councilor, Robert Tibbo.

HONG KONG (AP) - Hong Kong authorities have rejected asylum requests from a group of refugees who sheltered Edward Snowden four years ago, in what their lawyer said is retaliation for helping the former NSA contractor. CNN reports that Snowden has made a video appeal calling on members of the public to petition Canada's immigration minister, the Canadian consulate in Hong Kong, or the Hong Kong government to help the families.

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A non-profit group is attempting to raise the estimated $15,000 to cover the appeals. The four - Vanessa Rodel from the Philippines, former Sri Lankan soldier Ajith Pushpakumara, and Supun Kellapatha and Nadeeka Nonis, a married couple from Sri Lanka - now face possible detention or deportation. But, they add, time is running out. Also, all of the refugees' children were born in Hong Kong and are now stateless.

Hong Kong is not a signatory to the UN's refugee convention and does not grant asylum. "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", the lawyer said. I was tortured in my country.

Hong Kong's 11,000 marginalised refugees spend years in limbo, hoping the government will eventually support their claims.

After leaving his initial Hong Kong hotel for fear of being discovered, Snowden went underground, fed and looked after by the refugees for around two weeks.

After just over a month in Hong Kong, Snowden boarded a flight to Russian Federation, where he has since been granted asylum.