Russian lawyer says Snowden in danger after hostile remarks

MOSCOW Tue Jan 21, 2014 6:22pm EST

The Reichstag building, seat of the German lower house of parliament Bundestag, is pictured though a flag depicting fugitive former U.S. National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden, during a demonstration in Berlin November 18, 2013. REUTERS/Tobias Schwarz

The Reichstag building, seat of the German lower house of parliament Bundestag, is pictured though a flag depicting fugitive former U.S. National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden, during a demonstration in Berlin November 18, 2013.

Credit: Reuters/Tobias Schwarz

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MOSCOW (Reuters) - Edward Snowden needs better security after a news report quoted unnamed U.S. intelligence officials saying they wanted the former spy agency contractor dead and discussing ways to kill him, his Russian lawyer said on Tuesday.

Snowden was granted asylum in Russia last summer after fleeing the United States, where he is wanted on espionage charges for leaking information about government surveillance practices.

The American's revelations caused an uproar in the United States over privacy rights and angered many U.S. allies. Russia's decision to shelter him damaged already strained ties between Moscow and Washington.

"We are concerned about potential hidden threats that we have heard often recently. In these statements ... they openly call for physical reprisal against Edward Snowden," lawyer Anatoly Kucherena said on state-run Rossiya-24 television.

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.

"Edward, of course, treats these remarks as a real threat to his life because he lives an ordinary life and goes to the store and goes out on the street," said Kucherena.

"Edward must think of his safety, and probably now it is not sufficient for him to have only private guards - it's necessary to think about how to secure his life and health," he said.

Snowden has been well hidden from the public eye since he was granted asylum, with a few photos and video clips emerging from meetings with Western lawmakers and former officials, but Kucherena has repeatedly portrayed him as living a normal life.

TIGHT SECURITY

Members of at least two groups of people who have met with Snowden in the last few months have said that they had to pass through metal detectors before meeting him and that security men were visible at the perimeter of the meeting places,

President Vladimir Putin has said Russia did not engineer Snowden's arrival and denied suspicion in the West that Russian intelligence officers have pumped him for information.

Putin rejected U.S. calls to send Snowden home for prosecution, adding to tension in ties already frayed since his return to the Kremlin in 2012, but has said he does not want the fugitive to harm relations with Washington.

U.S. President Barack Obama called off plans for a Moscow summit with Putin after Russia granted Snowden asylum. He is useful as a propaganda tool for Putin, who accuses the United States of preaching about rights it does not uphold at home.

Kucherena said he and a U.S. lawyer he said was also aiding Snowden would call upon the U.S. authorities to establish and reveal the identities of the officials who were quoted.

"We believe that the American government should pay attention to such statements," he said, later adding: "We will ask for these individuals to have their masks removed."

Asked whether Snowden might leave Russia because of the perceived threats, Kucherena said the 30-year-old American would decide himself what to do to improve his security. He gave no details about potential measures.

(Additional reporting by Mark Hosenball in Washington; Editing by Jonathan Oatis)

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Comments (23)
TheLastNomad wrote:
Ugh, this is so frustrating. In my opinion, both Russian and U.S. should just leave Snowden in peace. Let the man just live quietly somewhere safely in Europe.

Jan 21, 2014 5:47pm EST  --  Report as abuse
TheLastNomad wrote:
Ugh, this is so frustrating. In my opinion, both Russian and U.S. should just leave Snowden in peace. Let the man just live quietly somewhere safely in Europe.

Jan 21, 2014 5:47pm EST  --  Report as abuse
ronryegadfly wrote:
A Pentagon official said 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.

These guys should not only lose their jobs, they should be thrown in jail. I don’t want my tax dollars paying the salary of anybody who would say these things. Get rid of the thugs. This is not Nazi Germany.

Cold War-style.

Jan 21, 2014 5:51pm EST  --  Report as abuse
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