U.S. intelligence leaker Edward Snowden will ask Russian law enforcement authorities for protection after having received death threats against him disseminated by the U.S. media, his Russian lawyer said Tuesday.
"We are concerned with the situation around Edward. We see statements made by some U.S. officials containing potential and implicit threats to his life," Anatoly Kucherena told reporters.
One such threat, attributed to a U.S. intelligence officer, describes in detail how Snowden, who is living in Russia after having been granted temporary asylum here, could be easily assassinated in Moscow.
"This is a real death threat, and we are concerned that it has prompted no reaction from anybody. That is why we will file a request to the police. … We will ask the [Russian] law enforcement to investigate all such statements," Kucherena said.
The lawyer said a death threat carries criminal liability under Russian law, while Snowden's refugee status gives him equal rights as Russian citizens and allows him to ask for police protection in the country.
Kucherena also said Snowden's U.S. legal adviser, Ben Wizner, would take relevant steps in the U.S. to identify officials from the National Security Agency who called for Snowden's assassination.
Snowden, a 30-year-old former employee of the CIA and the NSA, hit the media spotlight after he leaked to reporters information about extensive surveillance programs by the U.S. government that allegedly targeted millions of people around the world.
Earlier this week, U.S. Congressman Mike Rogers, a Republican from Michigan and head of the House Intelligence Committee, told NBC's "Meet the Press," broadcast Sunday that he suspected Snowden of working with "foreign intelligence agencies."
"I believe there is a reason he ended up in the hands — the loving arms — of an FSB [Federal Security Service] agent in Moscow. I do not think that is a coincidence," Rogers said.
"I personally believe that he was cultivated by a foreign power to do what he did," McCaul said.