Edward Snowdens guardian angels seek fast-track refugee claim to Canada

OTTAWA—A group of Hong Kong asylum seekers who sheltered the American surveillance whistleblower Edward Snowden in 2013 is calling on the Canadian government to speed up their refugee applications in the face of concern they will be imminently detained, deported and separated from their children.The group’s legal team, which consists of lawyers in Hong Kong and Montreal, accused Canadian officials of reversing a decision in April to expedite the refugee applications of the so-called “Snowden’s Guardian Angels.” They told reporters on Parliament Hill the asylum seekers would face possible arrest, torture or death if they are deported to their home countries of Sri Lanka and the Philippines, and are demanding an explanation from Ottawa about why the cases aren’t being fast-tracked.The lawyers plan to submit a motion in Federal Court on Tuesday to force the government to hear their cases as soon as possible.“It’s unacceptable, and it’s immoral,” said Marc-André Séguin, one of the lawyers representing the four adults and three young children hoping to come to Canada. He suggested the Justin Trudeau government, which has branded the country as a haven for refugees, is at risk of contradicting its own welcoming rhetoric.Human Rights Watch has also called on the government to fast-track the applications.Article Continued Below“We invite (Trudeau) to review his messages, to look at the photos of these three children,” Séguin said, “and to ask himself the question: do these people deserve a future?”Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Minister Ahmed Hussen, whose department handles such applications, was not available for an interview Monday, according to his office.In an emailed statement, Hussen’s spokesperson Hursh Jaswal said the minister has not made any promise to expedite the Hong Kong claimants’ applications. He said the government is committed to making sure every case is “evaluated based on its merits and in a fair manner,” but declined to comment further because of “privacy laws.”