‘An inexpressible tragedy’: Snowden tweets support for asylum-seekers who sheltered him

‘An inexpressible tragedy’: Snowden tweets support for asylum-seekers who sheltered him
NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden tweeted support for the asylum-seeker families in Hong Kong who helped him, after they voiced fears for their own safety. Family members spoke out after reports that Sri Lankan police are searching for them.

Snowden, who has been vocal in support of his ‘guardian angels’ since their identities were revealed last September, tweeted his frustration that they have not yet been granted asylum.

The Sri Lankan families held a press conference in Hong Kong on Thursday, revealing that multiple sources had informed them that Sri Lankan agents had sought information on their whereabouts on two separate visits to the city.

“I felt very scared and nervous... maybe they can arrest me... I don’t know what they would do, because they are cruel,” Supun Thilina Kellapatha, who is waiting with his wife and two children to be granted refugee status, said.

In a report last year, UN Special Rapporteurs criticized Sri Lanka’s “culture of torture” in its criminal justice system, and urged the government to replace its existing legal framework.

Filipino asylum-seeker Vanessa Mae Rodel, who has a four-year-old daughter, also harbored Snowden in 2013 before he was granted asylum in Russia.

Lawyer for the group Robert Tibbo previously claimed the Hong Kong government was retaliating against the families for helping Snowden.

Speaking at the press conference on Thursday, Tibbo said that the illegal cross-border police pursuit was reported by other Sri Lankans living in Hong Kong who were approached by the authorities in November and December. Hong Kong’s Immigration Department has been notified of the incidences, he said.

The Canadian lawyer said that at least two agents had files, including photos, on the asylum-seekers. One of the group’s family members in Sri Lanka was also reportedly harassed and threatened by authorities.

The families are hoping to resettle in Canada, according to Tibbo.

READ MORE: ‘Stop interfering’: China scolds Britain, tells it not to meddle in Hong Kong’s affairs 

Law enforcement authorities from mainland China or other countries have no jurisdiction to enforce laws in Hong Kong. Concerns over mainland agents acting in the city were heightened last year when five Hong Kong booksellers vanished, later turning up in the custody of mainland Chinese authorities.