March 26 (UPI) -- A Filipino woman and her daughter who sheltered U.S. whistleblower Edward Snowden in Hong Kong have been granted asylum in Canada.
Vanessa Rodel, 42, and her 7-year-old daughter Keana Nihinsa, landed Monday night at Toronto Pearson International Airport after a flight from Hong Kong, The Globe and Mail reported.
The Filipino nationals were to arrive in Montreal Tuesday where they plan to make a home with the help of non-profit group For the Refugees that had sponsored them.
"I feel like I'm free," Rodel told reporters in Toronto. "I can sleep well."
Following their arrival in the Ontario capital, Snowden tweeted his appreciation to Canada.
"Thank you to everyone, in Canada and around the world, who made this possible," he wrote in French. "After so many years, the first of the families that helped me has a future. But the work is not over - with solidarity and compassion, Canada can save all of them."
Rodel and her daughter are not the only people seeking asylum in Canada after having sheltered Snowden following his escape from the states - there are five others who are looking to gain refugee status in Canada.
A Sri Lankan couple with two children and a man, also from Sri Lanka, are waiting for Canada to make a decision on their applications.
Lawyer Robert Tibbo, Snowden's lawyer in Canada, is urging the ruling Liberal government to accept the other asylum seekers.
"They all helped out on something extraordinary in helping Mr. Snowden, making their decisions of conscience to provide him shelter, humanity and empathy," Tibbo said.
The seven individuals had sheltered Snowden for two weeks in Hong Kong seven years ago after he leaked thousands of classified intelligence files and fled the United States. Tibbo, who was working as an immigration lawyer in Hong Kong then, introduced his clients to Snowden.
All of the refugees claim harrowing stories for asylum, the Montreal Gazette reported.
Rodel had been kidnapped, raped and sexually trafficked by the militant arm of the Philippines Communist party.
Ajith Pushpa Kumara was sexually assaulted by his superiors in the Sri Lankan army before being arrested and tortured.
Nadeeka Kuttige was raped and held captive by Sri Lankan government officials.
And her husband Partner Supun was nearly killed for being in a relationship with a woman connected to an opposing political party.
Snowden is now urging Canada to accept all of them.
"This is actually the easiest decision in the world for Canada to make because these people have the best case of any kind of asylum seeker you can imagine," Snowden said. "They've done no harm, they've only done good."
Snowden, a former National security Agency contractor who revealed a U.S. secret mass surveillance program, faces several felony charges in the states, including two counts under the Espionage Act.
Tibbo had attempted to gain the three families asylum in Hong Kong in 2017 but they were rejected.