Thursday, May 26

Edward Snowden raising funds to help refugees: Hong Kong refugees helped him hide after NSA leak



Edward Snowden Supporters of Edward Snowden are raising funds to try to help refugees who helped hide him when he went on the run in Hong Kong in 2013.

Until now, the whereabouts of Snowden in the weeks after he leaked secret intelligence documents had remained a mystery. But it has now been revealed he was staying with refugees in cramped and impoverished flats in some of the poorer parts of the city.

One of the whistleblower’s lawyers in Hong Kong, Robert Tibbo, disclosed the details in an interview with Canada’s National Post. Tibbo said Snowden had sent $1,000 to each of the people who had helped him. Other supporters of Snowden are also sending donations.

The fear is that now those who helped him have been identified, they might face reprisals. The money is to try to help them.

After Snowden leaked tens of thousands of secret documents from America’s National Security Agency and Britain’s GCHQ to journalists in the Mira Hotel in Hong Kong, he fled, under the protection of two lawyers, Tibbo and Jonathan Man.

Snowden went to an office of the United Nations to apply for refugee status in an attempt to avoid extradition and then stayed with various refugee families.

Both Tibbo and Man had helped the asylum seekers in the past and felt they would not betray Snowden.

In an interview with Canada’s National Post, Tibbo said: “Nobody would dream that a man of such high profile would be placed among the most reviled people in Hong Kong.”

The revelation now was prompted by the movie Snowden, which is to be premiered in Toronto on Friday. Its director, Oliver Stone, who meticulously researched the film, had been pressing for details of what had happened to Snowden after he left the Mira hotel.

Snowden, in a text sent to the Post, expressed thanks to the refugees. “Imagine the world’s most wanted dissident brought to your door. Would you open it? They didn’t even hesitate and I’ll always be grateful for that,” he said.

A refugee from Sri Lanka, called Supun Thilina Kellapatha, and his partner, Nadeeka, gave him a place in their small home. He later moved to another flat, where Vanessa Mae Bondalian Rodel, an asylum seeker from the Philippines, lived with her mother and daughter.

Then he stayed with Ajith Pushpakumara, another Sri Lankan who had been helping him move around the city.

Their surnames were withheld by the Post to try to protect their identities, but they were soon identified.