Home countries deemed ‘safe’ by authorities
AGROUP of refugees who sheltered fugitive whistleblower Edward Snowden in Hong Kong are facing deportation after the city’s authorities rejected their bid for protection, their lawyer said yesterday.
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 for two weeks after he initiated one of the largest data leaks in United States history.
They have spent years hoping the government would recognise their cases and save them from being sent back to their home countries, where they say they were persecuted.
However, immigration authorities rejected their protection claims yesterday.
“The decisions are completely unreasonable,” their lawyer Robert Tibbo said.
Tibbo said their cases had been rejected because their home countries were deemed safe.
The refugees have said previously they were specifically asked about their links to Snowden by Hong Kong authorities.
“We now have less than two weeks to submit appeals before the families are deported,” said Tibbo alongside the refugees, who were visibly distressed.
He said there was a risk his clients could be detained and their children placed in government custody. Their stories only emerged late last year.
The group says they experienced torture and persecution in their own countries and cannot safely return.
Their lawyers and some city legislators have said two of the Sri Lankan refugees had been targeted by agents from their home country.
Hong Kong is bound by the United Nations Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment and considers Sumo wrestlers hold up crying babies in front of a referee clad in a traditional costume during a “Baby-cry Sumo” event at the Kamegaike-Hachiman Shrine in Sagamihara, Kanagawa prefecture, Japan, on Sunday. Some 150 babies aged under 2 took part in the annual baby crying contest in the Shinto shrine in Sagamihara. Japanese parents believe that sumo wrestlers can help make babies cry out a wish to grow up with good health. claims for protection based on those grounds.
It also considers claims based on risk of persecution.
Lawyers for the Snowden refugees separately lodged an asylum petition with the Canadian government in March and called for that process to be expedited yesterday. AFP
Rejected asylum seeker Vanessa Mae Bondalian Rodel hugging her daughter (left) and another asylum seeker outside Immigration Tower in Hong Kong yesterday.