Families who sheltered fugitive Snowden looking for fast-track asylum to Canada
Published Monday, May 15, 2017 2:17PM EDT
Last Updated Monday, May 15, 2017 7:09PM EDT
Two Montreal lawyers are fighting to bring Edward Snowden's guardian angels to Canada.
The so-called "angels" sheltered Snowden in their Hong Kong homes in 2013 just after he leaked classified information on the U.S government.
The four adults and their three children include a Sri Lankan couple with two children, a Sri Lankan man, a Filipino mother and her daughter.
Members of the group initially sought refuge in Hong Kong but their application was rejected last Friday.
"I didn't have any regrets to help Edward Snowden," said Vanessa Rodel. "I never thought that the most wanted man in the world is staying in my house, and I'm very happy where he is right now."
Authorities in Hong Kong said they believed the governments in Sri Lanka and the Philippines could protect the applicants, but the applicants disagree.
The group of asylum seeks has formed a non-governmental organization called "For the refugees" that is dedicated to supporting the families, and is petitoning the Canadian government to accept them as refugees.
Their Hong Kong-based lawyer Robert Tibbo believes Canada is one of the few countries that will accept the group's refugee application, pointing out Canada permits refugee applications from people who have not been screened by the United Nations..
"The solution is Canada," said Tibbo.
One of their lawyers in Montreal is Michael Simkin, who believes the Canadian goverment could bring the group into Canada very quickly.
"More importantly, if they were willing they could bring the families to Canada as an exceptional measure," said Simkin.
Tibbo who arranged for the families to host Snowden, since he is also Snowden's lawyer.
"They made fully informed decisions but at the same time I feel a moral responsibility," said Tibbo.
Snowden spent several months working for a contractor for the National Security Agency before giving thousands of classified documents to journalists.
Snowden has been living in Russia since June 2013, when he was charged in the U.S. with theft and two violations of the 1917 Espionage Act. He faces up to 30 years in prison.