Local lawyers want to help bring Hong Kong 'Snowden Angels' to Canada

Two Montreal lawyers hope to bring people who helped harbour Edward Snowden out of Hong Kong into Canada as refugees.

When Edward Snowden was on the run from the U.S. government, he was taken in for about 2 weeks by some fellow refugees in Hong Kong, before moving to Russia.

Recently, the documentary film "Snowden" exposed their identities and location to the governments of Sri Lanka and the Philippines — countries they came to Hong Kong to flee, and now they're being targeted and harassed by Sri Lanken government officials.

"Here in Hong Kong there's not a willingness to protect them," says lawyer Micheal Simkin. "Given that it's a matter of life and death not for just them but for their children the best solution would be for our country Canada to take action, do the right thing and accept them as refugees in Canada." 

He and his Canadian partner have set up an organization "For the Refugees" to garner support for the 7 people who hosted Snowden and pressure the Canadian government to act upon their promise to welcome refugees and take these people in.

"Everyone who's heard of Edward Snowden knows about what he did," Simkin says. "What fewer people are aware of are what these families did, which is to help him at a time when he needed shelter."

He says they've lost social assistance money and their children have been forced out of school - they've been interrogated several times and fear that within just a few weeks they'll be deported back to Sri Lanka where they faced political persecution.

"The Hong Kong authorities haven't been able to protect them," he says. "The real concern is that they could be tortured or killed."

Simkin says it's essential that Prime Minister Justin Trudeau lives up to his promise to be welcoming to refugees, and expedite their entrance into Canada.