A group of Montreal lawyers is urging the Canadian government to help impoverished asylum-seekers in Hong Kong who say they have faced harassment for having housed whistleblower and American fugitive Edward Snowden.
The lawyers have launched a Canadian organization named For the Refugees to raise money for the families and to lobby Ottawa to give them sanctuary as they come under pressure in Hong Kong – a jurisdiction known for being tough on asylum-seekers.
Since the refugees’ involvement with Mr. Snowden rose to global prominence this fall – including in scenes in a recent Oliver Stone film on the fugitive – they say they’ve been questioned on Mr. Snowden by welfare authorities, seen welfare benefits cut and had visits from police.
“Our first objective is to raise funds to make sure they don’t have to worry about their next meal. Our second objective is to find a safe place for them,” said Marc-André Séguin, an immigration specialist who is one of the three lawyers spearheading the effort in Montreal.
“Hong Kong’s acceptance rate for asylum-seekers is effectively zero. When you ask these people where they want to go, they consistently say Canada.”