WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange warned Edward Snowdon to escape to Russia or risk being "kidnapped or possibly killed". Assange told the former NSA contractor Snowden to flee to Moscow after he leaked information about the US government's mass surveillance programme to the media in 2013.
Snowden, who was granted a three-year temporary asylum in Russia, initially wanted to travel to Latin America. But Assange feared that the CIA would try and kidnap him had he stayed in the region, according to the Times Magazine.
"Snowden was well aware of the spin that would be put on it if he took asylum in Russia," Assange told The Times Magazine. "He preferred Latin America, but my advice was that he should take asylum in Russia despite the negative PR consequences, because my assessment is that he had a significant risk of being kidnapped from Latin America on CIA orders… or possibly killed."
Snowden, 31, has been in hiding in Russia since revealing details of the NSA's wide-ranging surveillance programme to the Guardian. He had been travelling to Latin America after handing over NSA documents to Glenn Greenwald, Laura Poitras and Ewen MacAskill in Hong Kong. His passport was allegedly revoked en route and he was forced to seek asylum in Russia, according to the Guardian.
Meanwhile, Assange, who is wanted by the FBI after WikiLeaks leaked US military and diplomatic documents, has been hiding in the Ecuadorian embassy in London since June 2012. He is wanted for questioning into an alleged rape in Sweden and the WikiLeaks founder has been fighting extradition over fears that he will be handed over to the Americans.
Assange told the Times Magazine that he no longer goes out to the balcony, claiming that there have been "bomb threats and assassination threats from various people". Swedish officials are set to meet their Ecuadorian counterparts on Monday to find a way for Swedish prosecutors to question the Australian over the allegation.
"It is the first time that we are going to meet and we will discuss a general agreement for judicial cooperation between the two countries," Swedish justice ministry official Cecilia Riddselius said on Friday.