The Snowden-Sri Lankan connection

The New York Times has an interesting article about the two weeks that Edward Snowden went missing, after he left his luxury hotel in Hong Kong and before he showed up in Moscow, when he was in hiding from the US government and the hordes of media reporters who were seeking him after him bombshell revelations about US spying. It turns out that his lawyers in Hong Kong had placed him in the homes of other clients who were refugees seeking asylum, people who lived in tiny apartments in some of the city’s poorest districts, and some of them were Sri Lankans.

After a few days with Ms. Rodel and her daughter, Mr. Snowden spent a night with Ajith Pushpakumara, 44, who said he fled to Hong Kong after being chained to a wall and tortured for deserting the army in his native Sri Lanka.

Mr. Pushpakumara said he had listened to online radio broadcasts about Mr. Snowden and was surprised to suddenly find him in the dingy apartment that he shared with several men. He realized Mr. Snowden was in the same situation he was, hiding in a small room. “I was worried about him,” he said.

Supun Thilina Kellapatha, his wife and their toddler also sheltered Mr. Snowden, putting him up for about three days in their 250-square-foot apartment.

Mr. Kellapatha, 32, who said he sought protection in Hong Kong after being tortured in Sri Lanka, described their guest as a tired man who was unfailingly polite.

“He said, ‘You are a good man,’ ” when he arrived at the apartment, Mr. Kellapatha recalled. “But I feel he is better than me, because he respected me.”

Mr. Kellapatha and his wife, Nadeeka Dilrukshi Nonis, said they were not worried about hosting Mr. Snowden. “I don’t think I take the risk,” he said. “He is the one who take the big risk.”

When Mr. Snowden left, he left the couple $200 under a pillow, which they said they used to buy necessities for their daughter. “Sometimes I tell Supun, maybe he forgot us,” Ms. Nonis said. “I want to tell him, ‘Edward, how are you? We will never forget you.’ ”

I am pleased that Sri Lankans played a role, however small, in enabling Snowden to evade the clutches of the Obama administration. Such acts of solidarity are what enable those on the margins of society to defy powerful forces.


  1. Mano Singham says


    Thanks for that link. I had heard that this certification was in the works and was glad to see it is now official.

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