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September 28, 2021

TODAY: Four Snowden refugees arriving in Canada

“Though their resources were limited—Supun, Nadeeka, Vanessa and two little girls lived in a crumbling, cramped apartment smaller than my room at the Mira—they shared everything they had with me, and they shared it unstintingly.”

— Edward Snowden

Let’s finish the job. Two of the refugees who sheltered Edward Snowden are now safe in Canada, but five are not. This page is about saving their lives.

FTR - Nadeeka & Supun

Nadeeka and Supun

Nadeeka and Supun each fled their homes in Sri Lanka after facing persecution and physical and sexual abuse over their political opinions. When they met Snowden in 2013, they gave him their bed, while they slept on the floor in the hallway.

They met in Hong Kong, and now have two children, Sethumdi and Dinath. Supun is also Keana’s father, and Sethumdi and Dinath are Keana’s half-siblings. The family hopes to be reunited in Montreal soon.

Like Vanessa’s daughter, their children Sethumdi and Dinath are also stateless. Sethumdi was humiliated by staff and kicked out of school last year when her government assistance was cut off. As a result, she was not allowed to attend class all of last year.

Thanks to funding from For the Refugees, she is now enrolled in a new school and making friends.

FTR - Ajith


Ajith fled his home country of Sri Lanka in 2003. When he was caught by the military police, he was then tortured. With his military background, Ajith acted as Edward Snowden’s bodyguard in Hong Kong in 2013.

In Sri Lanka, Ajith signed up for the military when he was 18 years old. But in the Ambepussa Army Camp young recruits were abused daily and often raped by their superiors. A victim of sexual abuse and at one point left for dead, Ajith deserted. When he was caught by the military police, he was then tortured.
With his military background, Ajith acted as Edward Snowden’s bodyguard in Hong Kong in 2013.

Ajith has been diagnosed with PTSD and fears he will be killed if he returns to his home country. He tries to find solace in his practice of Buddhism, but wants nothing more than to have a normal life and to see his daughter again. They have not seen each other in over 15 years.

Past Cases

During a trip home to the Philippines in 2000, Vanessa was kidnapped and raped. She gave birth to a son who was taken from her and is now presumed to be dead. In 2002 she fled back to Hong Kong to escape her aggressor, where she lived with her infant daughter Keana.
In June 2013 she sheltered an unexpected visitor named Edward Snowden, hiding his passport in her refrigerator. Today, Vanessa has fond memories of Edward playing with her little daughter and all three of them celebrating his 30th birthday together in her home.
Vanessa and Keana were admitted to Canada as refugees privately sponsored by For the Refugees in March, 2019, and currently live in Montreal.
For the Refugees’ sponsorship of Vanessa and Keana was successfully completed in 2020.
To learn more about Vanessa’s story, please see here.

As seen on...

The Washington Post

First of the ‘Snowden refugees’ has been granted asylum in Canada

The Guardian

Hong Kong’s Snowden refugees, facing deportation, hope of new life in Canada