News / USA

US Tells Russia It Won't Seek Death Penalty for Snowden

A television screen shows former U.S. spy agency contractor Edward Snowden during a news bulletin at a cafe at the Moscow's Sheremetyevo airport, Russia, June 26, 2013.
A television screen shows former U.S. spy agency contractor Edward Snowden during a news bulletin at a cafe at the Moscow's Sheremetyevo airport, Russia, June 26, 2013.
VOA News
The United States is telling Russia it will not seek the death penalty or torture American intelligence leaker Edward Snowden, if Moscow expels him to the United States to face espionage charges.

The top U.S. law enforcement official, Attorney General Eric Holder, told his Russian counterpart in a letter this week that claims by the former intelligence contractor that he could be tortured or put to death "are entirely without merit." Holder said the espionage charges Snowden faces do not carry the possibility of the death penalty and that torture is unlawful in the U.S.

In the letter, released Friday, Holder said the 30-year-old Snowden would be promptly brought before a civilian court if he is extradited to the U.S.

Russian President Vladimir Putin has refused American requests that Snowden be returned to the U.S., and his spokesman reiterated that stance again on Friday. The spokesman said officials from Russia's FSB agency are in discussions about Snowden with the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation, but gave no other details, other than to say that Snowden would not be handed over to American authorities.

Snowden has been encamped for a month in the transit zone of Moscow's Sheremetyevo airport, while searching for a country that would grant him asylum so he could avoid returning to the U.S. to stand trial. But his quick path out of the country was blocked after the U.S. revoked his passport.

Snowden has asked Russia for temporary asylum but says he eventually wants to head to Latin America. The leftist governments of Venezuela, Bolivia and Nicaragua have offered him asylum.

News agencies in Russia reported Wednesday that Snowden was about to be handed documents that would have allowed him to leave the airport transit zone and formally enter Russia. But Snowden's Russian lawyer, Anatoly Kucherena, said that consideration of his case was taking longer than expected and that the fugitive would continue to live at the airport.

Kucherena said the asylum request has been complicated by Snowden not understanding the Russian legal system.

"The fact that he spent so much time in the transit zone of the airport had to do with him not knowing Russian, our legal system and not understanding what he should do," he said. "He was asking many foreign governments to grant him political asylum, but it didn't work out, because he could apply for asylum only in the country he was in."

Kucherena said that even if Snowden is allowed to leave the airport he is worried about his safety and the American effort to capture him.

"It's an extremely vital question for him, because even I and you understand that it's the issue of his personal safety," he said. "He obviously is worried because the American government has been particularly active lately with regard to making political statements that Russia had to immediately hand him over to American authorities."

Snowden last month leaked secret details of telephone and Internet surveillance programs being conducted by the U.S.'s clandestine National Security Agency. The NSA says it is collecting the data to thwart terrorist attacks.

Snowden's disclosures have sparked a debate in Congress over the extent of the surveillance. But the House of Representatives this week narrowly defeated an attempt to curtail it, with supporters of the spying arguing that the data collection is necessary to protect the country.

You May Like

Captured IS Militants Explain Why They Fought

Fighters from Turkey, Syria tell VOA Kurdish Service what drew them to extremism, jihad More

Security Experts Split on Kenyan Barrier Wall

Experts divided on whether initiative aiming to keep out al-Shabab militants is long-awaited solution or misguided effort More

Video Philippines Wants Tourists Spending Money at New Casinos

Officials say they hope to turn Manila into the next Macau, which has long been Asia’s gambling hub More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: Brandt Hardin
July 26, 2013 3:54 PM
Snowden is a hero and a patriot in my book. We live in an age where the civil liberties our forefathers fought so hard for are being eroded by the day. Freedom of Press, Freedom of Speech and Freedom of Assembly are mere ghostly images of their original intent. We’ve woken up to an Orwellian Society of Fear where anyone is at the mercy of being labeled a terrorist for standing up for rights we took for granted just over a decade ago. Read about how we’re waging war against ourselves at http://dregstudiosart.blogspot.com/2011/09/living-in-society-of-fear-ten-years.html
In Response

by: vb from: mn
July 27, 2013 12:40 PM
Russia separates Georgia and takes Apkhadia and Osestia .now they take Syria and push Nato and US away. Now Russia is dominating the world .Not anyone else

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grievingi
X
Benno Muchler
March 26, 2015 3:41 PM
Beatrice Yardolo was to make history as Liberia’s last Ebola patient. Liberians recently started counting down 42 days, the period that has to go by without a single new infection until the World Health Organization can declare a country Ebola-free. That countdown stopped on March 20 when there was another new case of Ebola, making Yardolo’s story a reminder that Ebola is far from over. Benno Muchler reports from Monrovia.
Video

Video Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grieving

Beatrice Yardolo was to make history as Liberia’s last Ebola patient. Liberians recently started counting down 42 days, the period that has to go by without a single new infection until the World Health Organization can declare a country Ebola-free. That countdown stopped on March 20 when there was another new case of Ebola, making Yardolo’s story a reminder that Ebola is far from over. Benno Muchler reports from Monrovia.
Video

Video Cambodian Land Grabs Threaten Traditional Communities

Indigenous communities in Cambodia's Ratanakiri province say the government’s economic land concession policy is taking away their land and traditional way of life, making many fear that their identity will soon be lost. Local authorities, though, have denied this is the case. VOA's Say Mony went to investigate and filed this report, narrated by Colin Lovett.
Video

Video US, South Korea Conduct Joint Military Exercises

The Eighth U.S. Army Division and the Eighth Republic of Korea Mechanized Infantry Division put on a well orchestrated show of force for the media this week during their joint military training exercises in South Korea. VOA’s Seoul correspondent Brian Padden was there and reports the soldiers were well disciplined both in conducting a complex live fire exercise and in staying on message with the press.
Video

Video Space Program Status Disappoints 'Last Man on the Moon'

One of the films that drew big crowds last week at the annual South by Southwest festival in Austin, Texas, tells the story of the last human being to stand on the moon, U.S. astronaut Eugene Cernan. It has been 42 years since Cernan returned from the moon and he laments that no one else has gone there since. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Young Filmmakers Shine Spotlight on Giving Back

A group of student filmmakers from across the United States joined President Barack Obama at the White House this month for the second annual White House Student Film Festival. Fifteen short films were officially selected from more than 1,500 entries by students aged 6 through 18. The filmmakers and their families then joined the president and a group of celebrities for a screening of their films. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video VOA Exclusive: Interview with Afghan President Ashraf Ghani

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani, during his first visit as president to Washington, gave a one-on-one interview with VOA Afghan Service reporter Said Suleiman Ashna, about his request for a change in U.S. troop levels, the threat from the Islamic State, and repairing relations with the United States and Pakistan. The interview was held at Blair House, late Sunday, in Pashto.
Video

Video California Science Center Tells Story of Dead Sea Scrolls

The ancient manuscripts were uncovered in the mid-20th century, and they are still yielding clues about life and religious beliefs in ancient Israel. As VOA's Mike O'Sullivan reports, an exhibit in Los Angeles shows how modern science is bringing the history of these ancient documents to life.
Video

Video Angelina Jolie Takes Another Bold Step

Hollywood actress and filmmaker Angelina Jolie has revealed she had her ovaries and fallopian tubes removed to lower her odds of getting cancer. Doctors say the huge publicity over her decision will help raise awareness about the importance of cancer screening. VOA’s George Putic has more

All About America

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More