Former US intelligence analyst Edward Snowden is in such danger that he cannot even visit or talk to his family members, his lawyer Anatoly Kucherena says.
Kucherena, who has become Snowden’s unofficial spokesman, says Snowden is living under guard and has avoided any media contacts since arriving in Russia on a Hong Kong flight in June, AFP reports.
"I am his only link with the outside world at the moment. Even his contacts with his parents are carried out through me," he said in an interview published in Itogi weekly magazine.
Kucherena did not explain what kind of danger his client was facing, but many US officials have refused to rule out the possibility of snatching the whistleblower and returning him to the United States to face criminal prosecution.
The lawyer said Snowden does come outside of his secret residence in Russia, but only in disguise.
"He would walk past you and you wouldn't recognize him," he told Itogi. "It's a question of clothes and small alterations to his appearance... He really does walk freely around on the streets."
Kucherena, who is also an advisor to Russian President Vladimir Putin said that Snowden does not regret his decision to give up his life in the US in exchange for revealing confidential information about the US government’s domestic and global spying programs.
Snowden is “an extremely fast learner as far as the Russian language is concerned”, and has been spending some of his spare time learning it, Kucherena said.
The 30-year-old whistleblower spent a month in the transit area of Moscow's Sheremetyevo airport before receiving permit to stay in Russia. He has not made any public appearances ever since.
Documents disclosed by Snowden showed that the National Security Agency (NSA) collects data of phone records and Internet communication of American citizens and other nationals around the world.
The former NSA contractor is charged with espionage in the United States. Snowden supplied reporters with 50,000 secret documents.