News

4 Refugees Who Helped Edward Snowden Have Arrived In Montreal To Start New Lives

They sheltered the U.S. intelligence whistleblower in Hong Kong.

4 Refugees Who Helped Edward Snowden Have Arrived In Montreal To Start New Lives

A family that helped shelter whistleblower Edward Snowden in Hong Kong eight years ago arrived in Montreal to "start new lives" in Canada where they have been granted asylum, according to their non-profit sponsor For the Refugees.

Supun Thilina Kellapatha, Nadeeka Dilrukshi Nonis and children Sethumdi and Dinath touched down in Toronto on Tuesday afternoon before travelling to Montreal.

A For the Refugees spokesperson told MTL Blog the family has made it to Montreal safely and they "are settling in."

In 2013, Snowden leaked highly classified information he obtained while working for U.S. intelligence, exposing a mass government surveillance program, and resulting in the biggest leak in the National Security Agency's history.

When Snowden was on the run in Hong Kong, seven refugees originally from Sri Lanka and the Philippines agreed to take him in, and provide him with shelter. This family was among them and "they have had a target on their backs ever since," said For the Refugees in a statement.

Two of the "Snowden refugees" as they've been dubbed, Vanessa Rodel and her daughter Keana (who is also Supun's daughter), were already accepted into Canada as privately-sponsored refugees in March 2019.

"We are thrilled beyond measure to see this long ordeal finally come to an end for Supun, Nadeeka and their children," said Marc-André Séguin, president of For the Refugees, in a statement.

"After over a decade in limbo they can now begin to build new lives in Canada, reunited with the rest of their family and free of the constant fear and worry that marked their existence as high-profile asylum seekers in Hong Kong."

One of the seven, Ajith Pushpakumara, remains in Hong Kong. For the Refugees said his safety is still at risk and the organization is calling on the Canadian government to expedite his application process.

Applications for all seven refugees were first filed in January 2017, according to For the Refugees.

This article’s cover image was used for illustrative purposes only.