NSA whistleblower, Edward Snowden, will ask Russian law enforcers to protect him, his lawyer, Anatoly Kucherena, has said. The former NSA contractor is concerned about his safety after seeing death threats coming from the US.
Snowden, who is currently living in Moscow under Russia’s temporary asylum, has been following the threats against him in various American media.
“We are concerned with the situation around Edward. We see the statements made by some US officials containing potential and implicit threats and openly calling for causing him bodily harm,” Kucherena said.
One such statement published by BuzzFeed quoted a US intelligence officer describing in detail how he would have assassinated Snowden, if he “had the chance.”
“We would end it very quickly… Just casually walking on the streets of Moscow, coming back from buying his groceries. Going back to his flat and he is casually poked by a passerby. He thinks nothing of it at the time starts to feel a little woozy and thinks it’s a parasite from the local water. He goes home very innocently and next thing you know he dies in the shower,” the chillingly detailed fantasy said.
Another unnamed Pentagon official told the media he would have simply loved to “put a bullet in his [Snowden’s] head,” were he not “restricted from killing an American.”
“This is a real death threat and we are concerned about the fact it has prompted no reaction from anybody. That is why we will file a request to the police… We will ask the law enforcers to examine and investigate all such statements,” Kucherena said.
He stressed that according to Russian law, a death threat carries criminal liability.
Snowden’s refugee status makes him fully entitled to ask the police for help, the lawyer said.
Speaking to the Russian TV channel, Vesti 24, Kucherena said Snowden is constantly accompanied by his private guards, but given the threats, this “might not be enough” to ensure his security.
The lawyer said he will demand that the US authorities look into the threatening statements published in the US media, adding that their authors should be identified.
“The people who make extremist statements do so while wearing a mask – they do not reveal their identities. We will ask for these people’s masks to come off. We must know who this NSA officer is, who issues orders about ways to eliminate Edward Snowden,” Kucherena stressed.
The US government “must take note of such statements,” the lawyer added.
On Sunday, two of the top lawmakers within the United States intelligence community have stepped up pressure on Snowden, claiming he might have been linked to the Russian intelligence agencies. The US Congress is now considering whether any officials in the Russian government influenced the actions of the whistleblower, who carried out the biggest leak in history of US security, exposing the massive surveillance program of the US National Security Agency.