The Russian lawyer for Edward Snowden says the former NSA contractor is in fear for his life and is considering additional security measures after reading perceived threats from unnamed U.S. officials recently published in a media outlet.

From Bloomberg News:

Edward Snowden, the fugitive former U.S. contractor residing in Russia under temporary asylum, is appealing to the local government for protection after receiving threats against his life, his lawyer in Moscow said.

“He has no other option but to seek protection and ask for the situation to be cleared up,” Anatoly Kucherena said by phone today. “There are worries and alarm about statements and actions on the part of some officials.”

Kucherena, who has represented Snowden’s interests in Russia since he sought refuge last July after leaking classified National Security Agency documents, pointed to reports on Buzzfeed this month that contained threats made by unidentified U.S. officials.

Reuters reported that Kucherena did not specifically name any media outlet, but that he referred to comments that were noted in the Buzzfeed post.

Without naming any media outlet, he referred to comments reported by the website BuzzFeed, which quoted a Pentagon official as saying he would love to shoot Snowden in the head.

BuzzFeed quoted a U.S. Army intelligence officer as saying the former National Security Agency contractor could be killed Cold War-style, poked with a poisoned needle while returning home from the grocery store.

Snowden’s lawyer indicated that the former NSA contractor is already protected by private security guards, but claimed this may no longer be sufficient.  He also suggested that he may push for anonymous sources who have made such comments to media outlets to be identified.

From AFP:

“Edward is treating these as real threats to his life and wellbeing,” the Russian lawyer said. “Today, it might not be enough to have private guards.”

Kucherena added that he planned to ask US authorities to look into the publications and possibly ask the media outlets to identify their sources by name.

“We think that the US government must take note of such statements,” the lawyer said.

“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.”

The public meanwhile appears to be divided over the impact of Snowden’s leaks, according to a recent Pew Research poll, while a majority of the poll’s participants say the U.S. should pursue a criminal case against Snowden.

Overall, the public is divided about whether Edward Snowden’s leak of classified information, which brought the program to light, has served or harmed the public interest: 45% say it has served the public interest while 43% say it harmed it. Nonetheless, a 56% majority wants to see the government pursue a criminal case against Snowden, while 32% oppose this. This is little changed from June, shortly after Snowden’s first leaks of information about the program.

Snowden was charged last year with espionage and theft of government property after leaking classified documents about U.S. domestic and foreign intelligence surveillance programs to the news media.


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