U.S. assures Russia no death penalty for Snowden

12:47 PM, Jul 26, 2013   |    comments
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Attorney General Eric Holder has appealed to Russia to extradite NSA leaker Edward Snowed by assuring Moscow that the U.S. would try him in a civilian court, would not seek the death penalty and would not torture him.

A spokesman for Russian President Vladimir Putin, however, again ruled out extradition for the 30-year-old former defense contractor, RT.com reports.

The promises came in a letter from Holder to his Russian counterpart, Justice Minister Vladimirovich Konovalov.

"The charges he faces do not carry that possibility, and the United States would not seek the death penalty even if Mr. Snowden were charged with additional death penalty-eligible crimes," Attorney General Eric Holder said in a letter to Russian Minister of Justice Vladimirovich Konovalov.

In addition, Holder said that would be tried in a civilian court and "would not be tortured."

In the past, Russia has cited the prospect of capital punishment as a factor in its decision not to turn Snowden over to the U.S.

"We believe that these assurances eliminate these asserted grounds for Mr.Snowden's claim that he should be treated as a refugee or granted asylum, temporary or otherwise," Holder wrote.

A copy of the letter was released by the Justice Department on Friday.

The letter came amid discussions about the Snowden case between FBI director Robert Mueller and FSB chief Aleksandr Bortnikov, RT.com reported..

Despite the flurry of activity, Putin's spokesman Dmitry Peskov, said Friday that "Russia has never extradited anyone, and will not extradite," according to RT.com.

The spokesman also said he is certain that the former defense contractor, who has applied for asylum in Russia, will stop harming Washington with leaks or new revelations about the National Security Agency if allowed to stay in Russia

Peskov said that if Snowden, through his actions, should undermine Moscow's ties with Washington, "the head of state (Putin) has expressed strong determination not to allow this."

Snowden argued in his application for temporary asylum in Russia that he "he faces persecution by the U.S. government and he fears for his life and safety,"according to his lawyer Anatoly Kucherena.

The former NSA systems analyst has been living in the transit zone of Moscow's Sheremetyevo airport since arriving from Hong Kong on June 23.

Snowden said last week at a meeting with Russian rights activists and public figures that he would seek at least temporary refuge in Russia until he could fly to one of the three Latin American nations that have offered him asylum.

Snowden, who fled first to Hong Kong and then Russia, said he did what he believes was right to go public with information on the NSA surveillance and data-gathering networks in an effort to "correct this wrongdoing."

By: Doug Stanglin/USA Today

Ganett/USA Today

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