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Snowden helper arrives in Canada after being granted asylum

Vanessa Rodel pictured on arrival at Toronto Airport Image copyright COLE BURSTON
Image caption Edward Snowden has thanked the Canadian government for taking Ms Rodel and her daughter

A woman who helped shelter Edward Snowden in Hong Kong has been granted asylum in Canada.

Vanessa Rodel and her seven-year-old daughter Keana arrived at Toronto Airport on Monday.

The 42-year-old says she is now "safe and free" and will settle in Montreal.

Ms Rodel was one of several refugees who gave ex-CIA employee Edward Snowden shelter while he was on the run for leaking details of US top-secret phone and internet surveillance.

The Philippines national fled sexual violence in 2002 and sought asylum in Hong Kong. In 2013, while her asylum case was ongoing, she was asked by her lawyer to shelter Edward Snowden in her apartment.

Her case for refugee status in Hong Kong was eventually rejected in 2017.

Upon arrival in Toronto, Ms Rodel told the South China Morning Post: "When I heard 'Welcome to Canada,' it just put a big smile on my face.

"My life has changed. I am so excited that now we can even eat some food outside. I want to try maple syrup and do skating in the snow in Montreal with my daughter."

Image copyright AFP
Image caption Edward Snowden leaked tens of thousands of documents revealing mass surveillance by US and UK governments

On Monday Mr Snowden tweeted his thanks to the Canadian government for taking the family.

He said: "Thank you to all those in Canada and around the world who have made this possible. After so many years, the first of the families who helped me is free and has a future. But the work is not over - with solidarity and compassion, Canada can save them all."

Five other refugees who took him in remain in Hong Kong and have asked Canada for asylum. Their lawyer Robert Tibbo previously told the BBC that he decided to place Mr Snowden with the refugees as the area they lived in would be "the last place that anybody would look" for him.

Mr Snowden released tens of thousands of secret documents revealing the extent of government mass surveillance from America's NSA and Britain's GCHQ.

He hid in Hong Kong with the asylum seekers for two weeks while arrangements were made for him to be given asylum in Russia.

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