Russian lawyer says Snowden in danger after hostile remarks

MOSCOW Wed Jan 22, 2014 4:04am IST

A shop assistant looks at a screen broadcasting an image of the document which grants Edward Snowden temporary asylum status for a year, in Moscow August 1, 2013. REUTERS/Maxim Shemetov/Files

A shop assistant looks at a screen broadcasting an image of the document which grants Edward Snowden temporary asylum status for a year, in Moscow August 1, 2013.

Credit: Reuters/Maxim Shemetov/Files

Related Topics

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)

FILED UNDER:

Reuters Showcase

Countering China

Countering China

PM Modi to ramp up help for Indian Ocean nations to counter China influence  Full Article 

'India's Daughter'

'India's Daughter'

Society created Delhi gang rape convicts: Filmmaker Leslee Udwin.  Full Article | Related Story 

Kohli Censured

Kohli Censured

BCCI warns Virat Kohli against repeat of misbehaviour.  Full Article 

MUDRA Bank

MUDRA Bank

Funding the unfunded: India helps small business borrow to grow  Full Article 

PML(N)'s Hope

PML(N)'s Hope

Pakistan's ruling party looks for gains in upper house election  Full Article 

For Women's Right

For Women's Right

Afghan men don burqas, take to the streets for women's rights.  Full Article 

U.S. Envoy Attacked

U.S. Envoy Attacked

Knife-wielding attacker slashes face of U.S. ambassador in South Korea  Full Article 

New Strategy

New Strategy

Ashwin mulls 'one-sided' ploy against big-hitters.  Full Article 

Reuters India Mobile

Reuters India Mobile

Get the latest news on the go. Visit Reuters India on your mobile device  Full Coverage