MANILA, Philippines – Obtaining asylum status in Canada is the latest twist in the life of Vanessa Rodel, the Filipina who once sheltered US intelligence whistleblower Edward Snowden in Hong Kong.
Rodel and her 7-year-old daughter, Keana, arrived in Canada on Monday evening, March 25, as one of the first "Snowden refugees" to receive asylum status.
The Washington Post reported on Monday that Rodel "fled sexual violence in the Philippines in 2002 and sought asylum in Hong Kong."
"After being kidnapped and trafficked by militants, Rodel fled the Philippines, landing in Hong Kong, a wealthy city with a poor record of protecting asylum seekers," said the Washington Post.
Years later, in 2013, her Canadian lawyer Robert Tibbo "asked if she might shelter an American in distress – and that American turned out to be Snowden," the Washington Post added.
Snowden stayed with at least 4 refugees, according to a New York Times report. It added they were all clients of Tibbo, who helped hide Snowden.
Snowden was in Hong Kong from Mary 20 to June 23, 2013, when he fled for Russia, where he now lives.
Snowden, a former CIA employee and US National Security Agency contractor, had been charged in the US in June 2013 with espionage and stealing state secrets. His leaks of highly classified documents revealed the existence of global surveillance programs run by the NSA in cooperation with partners Australia, Britain, and Canada.
Rodel in 2016 described Snowden as "scared and very worried." After she saw his story in local media, she described her shock. "Oh my God, the most wanted man in the world is in my house." – Paterno Esmaquel II, with reports from Agence France-Presse/Rappler.com