Vanessa Mae Rodel and her daughter Keana Kellapatha, 7, are seen after a press conference on the status of the “Snowden Refugees”, Keana’s father and siblings that remain in Hong Kong, in Ottawa, on Wednesday, Oct. 16, 2019. Rodel, who helped shelter whistleblower Edward Snowden in Hong Kong, and her daughter were granted refugee status and have lived in Montreal since March. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Justin Tang

Vanessa Mae Rodel and her daughter Keana Kellapatha, 7, are seen after a press conference on the status of the “Snowden Refugees”, Keana’s father and siblings that remain in Hong Kong, in Ottawa, on Wednesday, Oct. 16, 2019. Rodel, who helped shelter whistleblower Edward Snowden in Hong Kong, and her daughter were granted refugee status and have lived in Montreal since March. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Justin Tang

Lawyers for ‘Snowden refugees’ demand Trudeau grant asylum before election

The group offered shelter and other help for a few weeks to Snowden in 2013

Vanessa Rodel arrived in Canada with her seven-year-old daughter last winter, granted refugee status in Canada as one of seven people who helped shelter American whistleblower Edward Snowden in Hong Kong.

On Wednesday she was on Parliament Hill with daughter Keana, begging the federal government to give the same refugee status to the other five, including her daughter’s father and two half-siblings, their mother and another man.

The group offered shelter and other help for a few weeks to Snowden in 2013, who is wanted in the United States for leaking classified documents from the National Security Agency that exposed the scope of massive American government surveillance operations.

The lawyers say the remaining five applied for refugee status in Canada in 2017 and have exactly the same case as Rodel and her daughter did.

Rodel made a similar plea in May, two months after arriving, but nothing has changed in the others’ cases since then, the lawyers said.

Robert Tibbo, the Montreal human-rights lawyer who helped arrange for Snowden to stay with the refugee families in Hong Kong, said Wednesday he wants the current government to approve the refugee claims before Monday’s election.

“My daughter needs her whole family here in Montreal,” Rodel said Wednesday. ”She dreams of her father and sister and brothers being with her. Their absence is causing harm to her.”

Rodel is originally from the Philippines. The remaining refugees are from Sri Lanka and face deportation to their home country, where the lawyers say they face persecution. Her daughter, and her daughter’s two half-siblings, are all stateless, born in Hong Kong as refugees. Their asylum claims in Hong Kong were rejected in 2017 when a Hollywood movie led to their outing as the people who sheltered Snowden before fled to Russia.

Tibbo and the other lawyers say the refugee cases were filed during Trudeau’s first term and he has a responsibility to make a decision before the election possibly hands power to a new prime minister.

They argue that Canada’s delay of their case is because the authorities don’t want to risk upsetting the U.S. government, though they had no specific evidence to that end other than the fact Trudeau and his foreign-affairs minister, Chrystia Freeland, have met other high-profile refugees arriving in Canada.

They also said they don’t trust the Conservatives would agree to grant asylum if leader Andrew Scheer becomes prime minister.

However they based that in part on saying incorrectly that in 2015, the Conservatives were in power when Canada rejected the asylum claim of Alan Kurdi’s family. The photo of the child lying dead on a beach in Turkey as his family tried to flee Syria caused a stir in the 2015 campaign, but ultimately it was discovered his parents had not applied to come to Canada, though other relatives had.

READ MORE: ‘Snowden refugee’ living in Montreal calls on Canada to accept others

The Canadian Press


Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Seniors in the Interior Health region can book their COVID-19 vaccinations starting Monday, March 8, 2021 at 7 a.m. (File photo)
Seniors in Interior Heath region can book COVID-19 shots starting Monday

Starting March 8 the vaccination call centre will be open 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. daily

Interior Health reported 33 new COVID-19 cases on March 5. (Black Press Files)
Interior Health reports 33 new COVID-19 cases on March 5

Over 300,000 vaccine doses have been administered provincewide.

A lawyer wears a face mask and gloves to curb the spread of COVID-19 while waiting to enter B.C. Supreme Court, in Vancouver, B.C., Friday, Aug. 28, 2020. British Columbia’s highest court has sided with the land owner in a dispute over public access to public land. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
B.C. high court finds in favour of large landowner in fight over access to Stoney and Minnie lakes

The Nicola Valley Fish and Game Club launched legal action after the cattle company blocked road and trail access

A nurse performs a test on a patient at a drive-in COVID-19 clinic in Montreal, on Wednesday, October 21, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Paul Chiasson
36 new cases of COVID-19, one death in Interior Health

The number of active cases in the region is at 366

(Submitted photo)
The deadly divide

To the Editor, Years of progress in eliminating poverty around the world… Continue reading

The James C Richardson Pipe Band marches in a Remembrance Day parade on Nov. 11, 2019 in Chilliwack. Wednesday, March 10 is International Bagpipe Day. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress file)
Unofficial holidays: Here’s what people are celebrating for the week of March 7 to 13

International Bagpipe Day, Wash Your Nose Day and Kidney Day are all coming up this week

Victoria man Brett Andersen is asking for people’s help to secure him one of eight free tickets to the moon. (Screenshot/@brettandersen Instagram)
Victoria man wants your help securing a free ticket to the moon

Japanese billionaire offering eight people a trip to the moon

The Conservation Officers Service is warning aquarium users after invasive and potentially destructive mussels were found in moss balls from a pet store. (BC Conservation Officers Service/Facebook)
Aquarium users in B.C. warned after invasive mussels found at pet store

Conservation officers were told the mussels were found in a moss ball from a Terrace pet store.

Hockey hall-of-fame legend Wayne Gretzky, right, watches the casket of his father, Walter Gretzky, as it is carried from the church during a funeral service in Brantford, Ont., Saturday, March 6, 2021. HE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
Walter Gretzky remembered as a man with a ‘heart of gold’ at funeral

The famous hockey father died Thursday at age 82 after battling Parkinson’s disease

Donald Alan Sweet was once an all star CFL kicker who played for the Montreal Alouettes and Montreal Concordes over a 13-year career. Photo courtesy of Mission RCMP.
Ex-B.C. teacher who was CFL kicker charged with assault, sexual crimes against former students

Donald Sweet taught in Mission School District for 10 years, investigators seek further witnesses

During a press event on March 6, Const. Alex Berube, media relations officer for the West Shore RCMP, addressed a deadly shooting that occurred in Metchosin the night before. (Devon Bidal/News Staff)
VIDEO: One man shot dead on Vancouver Island in ‘targeted incident’

Highway 14 reopens following multi-hour closure for investigation

Personal protective equipment is seen in the COVID-19 intensive care unit at St. Paul’s hospital in downtown Vancouver. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
$16.9 million invested to improve worker safety, strengthen B.C.’s food supply chain

Money to be used for social distancing, personal protective equipment, cleaning, and air circulation

More than ever before, as pandemic conditions persist, the threat of data breaches and cyberattacks continues to grow, according to SFU professor Michael Parent. (Pixabay photo)
SFU expert unveils 5 ways the COVID-19 pandemic has forever changed cybersecurity

Recognizing these changes is the first in a series of steps to mitigate them once the pandemic ends, and before the next: Michael Parent

Most Read