Though Buzzfeed’s report about NSA and Pentagon officials’ death threats against Edward Snowden have so far been met by silence from the White House and nothing-to-see-here brush offs by Obama administration loyalists, at least one person is taking them seriously: Snowden himself.
As the Moscow Times reports, Snowden’s lawyer is citing the threats in a formal request for police protection for his client:
‘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.
‘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.
Snowden remains in Russia after the United States, without due process, revoked his passport. Although American politicians have asked Snowden to return home and plead his whistleblower case in open court, he would actually be barred under U.S. law from doing that.
Along with Snowden requesting police protection today, the Moscow Times reports that “Kucherena also said Snowden’s U.S. legal adviser, Ben Wizner of the American Civil Liberties Union, will take relevant steps in the U.S. to identify officials from the National Security Agency who called for Snowden’s assassination.” [Editor's note: Wizner disputes the characterization of his plans published in the Moscow Times, tweeting: "That's odd. I never said that."]
As Pando reported earlier today, the Obama administration has previously used public resources to try to identify anonymous sources making unauthorized statements to media organizations. Whether or not the administration is pressured specifically by Snowden’s legal team, the question remains: will the administration use those same resources to identify and discipline these unnamed NSA and Pentagon sources who made death threats against Snowden?
Should the administration refuse to discipline those officials, it would reiterate another question: does silence and inaction suggest the White House tacitly endorses these death threats?
[image via thinkstock]