Handelsblatt Exclusive

Hiding Edward Snowden

Edward Snowden and Robert Tibbo source NY Jennifer
Edward Snowden talked with lawyer Robert Tibbo in a hotel in Moscow in late July.
  • Why it matters

    Why it matters

    Refugees sheltered Edward Snowden for two weeks in Hong Kong slums when he became the target of an international manhunt in June 2013 before fleeing to Moscow, Handelsblatt learned. People who seek asylum in Hong Kong face desperate circumstances.

  • Facts


    • NSA contractor Edward Snowden went underground for two weeks in Hong Kong in 2013 after disclosing his employer’s secrets.
    • He was hidden by refugees in Kowloon and other neighborhoods at a series of safe houses before fleeing escaping to Moscow, where he remains in exile, a fugitive from U.S. justice.
    • Mr. Snowden and his Hong Kong lawyer are telling the story of his first two weeks on the run to highlight the plight of refugees in Hong Kong, one of Asia’s wealthiest cities which grants asylum to only 0.3 percent of applicants. “Snowden,” a film by U.S. director Oliver Stone, opens this month in Germany and around the world.
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There’s no better place to interview Edward Snowden’s lawyer than Hong Kong’s Mira Hotel, the place where the former NSA contractor first made his revelations. It’s also the hotel where Mr. Snowden was stuck – until he was rescued by Robert Tibbo, the lawyer who sneaked him out of the hotel as the whole world was looking for him.

Accordingly, Handelsblatt’s chief investigative reporter, Sönke Iwersen, was excited as he waited at the Mira to meet the lawyer.

Mr. Tibbo is a Canadian human rights lawyer who worked as a chemical engineer for Monsanto in Australia before retraining. He went to law school in Hong Kong while working as a corporate consultant and now represents thousands of refugees living under miserable conditions in the autonomous Chinese territory.

Mr. Tibbo showed up late as one of clients was being harassed by the local authorities. When he arrived, on a brutally hot day, he sank into the cushioned chair and took a long sip of water, before telling the story of Mr. Snowden, his most famous client – and the plight of those who saved his life.

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