Group denied asylum in Hong Kong for sheltering Snowden

The asylum-seekers housed the whistleblower for two weeks

Group denied asylum in Hong Kong for sheltering Snowden

Asylum seekers, from left: Ajith Pushpa Kumara, Vanessa Mae Rodel and her daughter Keana, Nadeeka Dilrukshi Nonis and her son Dinath and daughter Sethmundi Kellapatha, and Supun Thilina Kellapatha, pose outside the building of Hong Kong's immigration department in Hong Kong. Image: Vincent Yu/AP/Press Association Images

A group of refugees who sheltered former National Security Agency (NSA) contractor Edward Snowden have been denied asylum in Hong Kong, according to their lawyer.

The asylum-seekers, from Sri Lanka and the Philippines, housed Mr Snowden for two weeks when he initially fled the US after leaking thousands of files on government surveillance.

Robert Tibbo said immigration officials denied the applications by the four adults and three children, in what he said is retaliation for helping Mr Snowden.

The identity of the group, who sheltered him for about two weeks, only became public shortly before the release of an Oliver Stone film about the whistleblower.

The group includes Ajith Pushpakumara, a former Sri Lankan soldier; Vanessa Mae Rodel, who is from the Philippines and has a five-year-old daughter; and a Sri Lankan couple, Supun Thilina Kellapatha and Nadeeka Dilrukshi Nonis, and their two children.

"We now have less than two weeks to submit appeals before the families are deported," Mr Tibbo said, calling the decision "completely unreasonable".

Hong Kong aslyum

There are currently 8,956 asylum seekers in Hong Kong awaiting a decision on their case, according to the Immigration Department.

But the territory only recognised 72 people as refugees between 2009 and December 2016, the South China Morning Post reported in February.