Before escaping to Russia, Snowden hid with families from Sri Lanka and the Philippines who sought asylum in Hong Kong. They hosted Snowden for short periods having been introduced to him by their mutual lawyer, Robert Tibbo.
They said they willingly helped Snowden who, like themselves, was seeking safety as a refugee. A US demand for his arrest in Hong Kong was not recognized and disclosed until after he had lawfully left the territory.
Once their connection with Snowden became known, the asylum seekers say Hong Kong authorities repeatedly questioned them to find out what they knew about Snowden, and denied them benefits for their basic living needs when they referred such questions to their lawyer.
The group includes four adults and three stateless children born in Hong Kong.
The Hong Kong government has sent the adult asylum seekers detention notices, indicating that they could soon be deported to their home countries where they say they’d face a credible risk of persecution and abuse.
The young children face separation from their parents if the adults are detained and deported.
According to a report in the South China Morning Post, the asylum seekers’ legal team in Canada is preparing to file an order of “mandamus,” an injunction in which they will ask the federal court to order the government to expedite their claims, based on the fact that the seven are in an “extremely vulnerable” situation in Hong Kong.