Snowden was taken to the refugees' dwelling in Hong Kong slums by a human rights lawyer, according to Handelsblatt. He stayed with one Sri Lankan family in their small flat before moving to stay with a Filipino and then another Sri Lankan.
The NSA contractor had met journalist Glenn Greenwald and filmmaker Laura Poitras at the Hotel Mira in Hong Kong where he was staying. There the three, along with Guardian journalist Ewen MacAskill, prepared stories using the documents which Snowden had with him. The first story was published on 13 June 2013.
After that, once Snowden's identity became known and he began to fear retaliation by the US authorities, the human rights lawyer Robert Tibbo came to his aid. Tibbo was helping some of the 12,000 refugees who were living under miserable conditions in Hong Kong.
Greenwald was told of the existence of Tibbo and another human rights lawyer, Jonathan Mann. Both went into action as soon as they were contacted, with Mann contacting the office of the UN High Commission for Refugees to try and seek political protection for Snowden.
Snowden was then billetted with the refugees until he was able to leave Hong Kong. He ended up in Moscow where he is now living.
Disclosure of the fact that Snowden was aided by refugees comes ahead of the release of a film about his saga by well-known American director Oliver Stone in Toronto on Friday.
The Handelsblatt story is well worth a read.