"In a world where I would not be restricted from killing an American, I personally would go and kill him myself," a current NSA analyst told BuzzFeed.
National Security Agency whistleblower Edward Snowden will ask Russian authorities for extra protection over threats to his life from American military and intelligence officers, his Russian lawyer said.
“We are concerned over potential and implicit threats that we hear more frequently lately. There are open calls for physical violence against Edward,” said lawyer Anatoly Kucherena who represents Mr Snowden’s interests in Russia.
The U.S. popular website BuzzFeed last week quoted a Pentagon official and an intelligence officer as saying they wanted to kill Mr Snowden personally.
“In a world where I would not be restricted from killing an American, I personally would go and kill him myself,” a current NSA analyst told BuzzFeed.
“I would love to put a bullet in his head,” said an unnamed Pentagon official, a former special forces officer.
Mr Snowden “takes these statements as real threats to his health and life,” Mr Kucherena told Russia's state-run Vesti-24 news channel.
Given the threats, private guards who constantly accompany Mr Snowden may not be enough to ensure his safety, the lawyer said.
“We must think of other measures to protect his life,” he said, adding that Mr Snowden’s asylum status entitles him to the same right to seek protection from the government as any Russian citizen has.
In another line of attack on Mr Snowden, head of the U.S. House Intelligence Committee claimed on Sunday that the former CIA employee and NSA contractor was a spy for Russia.
Republican Congressmen Mike Rogers said it was neither “coincidence” nor “a gee-whiz luck event that he [Snowden] ended up in Moscow under the handling of the F.S.B.” [Russia’s main intelligence agency].
Mr Snowden dismissed the accusation as “absurd.” He told The New Yorker from his hideout in Moscow that “Russia was never intended” to be his place of asylum and he “was only transiting through Russia.”
“But the State Department decided they wanted me in Moscow, and cancelled my passport.”
Mr Snowden will have a chance to present his case in greater detail when he gives his first online chat on Thursday on his support site http://www.freesnowden.is.