California Sen. Dianne Feinstein has fled the United States and is seeking political asylum in another country, claiming she fears retribution for criticizing U.S. intelligence agencies.
In a conference call with reporters, Feinstein, who is hiding in an undisclosed location, said she was afraid of what the U.S. government would do to her after she said the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) may have broke several laws when it spied on the Senate intelligence committee.
“Look, you all saw what we’ve done to Edward Snowden, Julian Assange and Chelsea Manning,” she said. “I’m a high-profile target, being a senator and knowing what I know about the U.S. intelligence agencies.
“There are people, shadowy people, who are now calling for my arrest and termination. I’m not safe in the United States anymore: they will hunt me down.”
The California Democrat, who is chairwoman of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, had long been a staunch defender of expanded surveillance programs, and accused Snowden of treason for revealing the depth of the National Security Agency’s spy programs.
However, Feinstein changed her tune after she blasted the CIA for possibly breaking the law and violating the Constitution when it allegedly sabotaged her committee’s efforts to investigate the CIA’s interrogation programs.
“I started receiving strange phone calls at night,” she said. “My phone was bugged and my private emails were read. One night I saw a drone hovering outside my house.”
“If I had known the full extent of this,” she added, “I would have demanded more accountability from these agencies when I had the chance.”
Feinstein said she would only consider returning to the United States once the spying agencies were brought under control with more legal oversight, though she admitted “it’s a huge longshot, no thanks to those mass-surveillance apologists in the Senate.”
Feinstein added that she was considering any country that offers her political asylum, including Russia along with Snowden if that were her only option.
“Look, I hope Snowden isn’t too pissed at me to let bygones be bygones,” she said. “I mean, I don’t remember calling him a traitor. Besides, we’ve got a lot in common now, a lot to talk about.”
When reached for comment, CIA Director John Brennan denied the agency was targeting the senator, but added, “If Sen. Feinstein has nothing to hide, she’s got nothing to worry about.”