Two months after being granted asylum in Canada, Filipina Vanessa Rodel and her 7-year-old daughter Keana, who helped shelter whistleblower Edward Snowden in Hong Kong, are settling into life in Montreal.
“For the first time I got a credit card and permanent residence, so I’m so happy,” 42-year-old Rodel said Wednesday, May 29, at a news conference in Montreal.
“Now I’m going to French class, it’s amazing, because I already got my student ID,” she added.
Despite her gratitude, however, Rodel expressed her worry over the five other members of the group dubbed Snowden’s “Guardian Angels” who remain in Hong Kong.
Together with her lawyer who sponsored their asylum claims in March — Guillaume Cliche-Rivard of the nongovernmental group For the Refugees — Rodel made a new plea to the Canadian government to take the remaining “Angels” in as refugees, saying they were being persecuted in Hong Kong for their role in helping Snowden.
The remaining “Angels” have been identified as a couple originally from Sri Lanka named Supun Kellapatha and Nadeeka Dilrukshi, and their two young children. The last one is a Sri Lankan soldier who deserted the military.
Supun Kellapatha is Keana’s father, according to Rodel.
“My daughter should not be growing up in Canada without her father, and her half-sister and her half-brother,” she said.
The group hid Snowden, a former CIA employee and U.S. National Security Agency (NSA) contractor, after he stole a trove of highly classified NSA documents revealing the existence of global surveillance programs run by the NSA in cooperation with partners Australia, Britain and Canada.
Snowden, who was charged in June 2013 in the United States with espionage and stealing state secrets, is currently living in Moscow.