Berlin (AFP) – Fugitive intelligence leaker Edward Snowden voiced fears that U.S. “government officials want to kill me”, in a TV interview to be broadcast in Germany Sunday.
The comment comes just days after Snowden’s Russian lawyer Anatoly Kucherena said the American feared for his life, following a report by BuzzFeed of explicit threats against him from unnamed Pentagon and National Security Agency (NSA) officials.
Snowden also told the German broadcaster: “These people, and they are government officials, have said they would love to put a bullet in my head or poison me when I come out of the supermarket, and then watch as I die in the shower.”
The translated Snowden quotes were released by German public television chain ARD, as part of a longer interview shot secretly in Moscow that it plans to screen later Sunday.
In a BuzzFeed article posted online last week and entitled “American Spies Want Edward Snowden Dead”, a Pentagon official is quoted as saying: “I would love to put a bullet in his head.”
“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 was further quoted as saying.
One unnamed army officer told BuzzFeed that Snowden could be “poked” on his way home from buying groceries by a passerby who is actually a U.S. agent.
Snowden “thinks nothing of it at the time (and soon) starts to feel a little woozy,” the U.S. intelligence officer is quoted as saying. “And the next thing you know he dies in the shower.”
Snowden, a former NSA contractor, is wanted by U.S. authorities on treason charges for disclosing details of a vast intelligence operation that monitored millions of phone calls and emails across the world.
He received temporary asylum in Russia in August — a move that infuriated the United States and was a key factor behind President Barack Obama’s decision to cancel a summit with Russia’s Vladimir Putin last year.
Kucherena told Russia’s state-run Vesti 24 news channel on Tuesday that Snowden is constantly accompanied by security guards and is considering additional security measures.
The lawyer added that he planned to ask U.S. authorities to look into the reported threats and possibly ask the media to identify their sources by name.
The German 30-minute interview will be broadcast Sunday at 2200 GMT, with initial extracts to be released during an earlier talk show at 2045 GMT.
On Thursday, in a question-and-answer session on the “Free Snowden” website, the fugitive ruled out returning to the United States, where he said there was no chance of a free trial.
AFP Photo/Mandel Ngan