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

    Beijing Warns Critics Over South China Sea Dispute

    Official warns critics that the more they challenge China's position regarding disputed territories in one of world’s busiest waterways, the more it will push back

    Will New Russian Force Be 'Putin’s Personal Army'?

    With broad powers to control riots, suppress dissent, National Guard may be aimed at sending a message to West as much as keeping peace at home

    Foreign Media in Pyongyang Barred From North Korean Party Congress

    Hundreds of international journalists invited to cover historic party meeting barred from entering actual event

    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.
    Image Recognition Market Seen Doubling by 2020i
    X
    Ramon Taylor
    May 05, 2016 10:05 PM
    From auto tagging on Facebook to self-driving cars, image recognition technology as it exists today is still in its beginning phases, experts say — and will soon change the way users and corporations interact with the physical world. VOA's Ramon Taylor reports.
    Video

    Video Image Recognition Market Seen Doubling by 2020

    From auto tagging on Facebook to self-driving cars, image recognition technology as it exists today is still in its beginning phases, experts say — and will soon change the way users and corporations interact with the physical world. VOA's Ramon Taylor reports.
    Video

    Video Child Labor in Afghanistan Remains a Problem

    With war still raging in Afghanistan, the country also faces the problem of child labor as families put their school-age children to work to help make ends meet. But, thanks to VOA's Afghan Service, two families whose children had been working in a brick-making factory - to earn their livings and pay off family debts - now have a new lease on life. Zabihullah Ghazi reports.
    Video

    Video Kurdish Troops Recount Firefight Which Killed US Navy SEAL

    A U.S. Navy SEAL killed Tuesday, when Islamic State fighters punched through Kurdish lines in northern Iraq, was part of a quick reaction force sent to extract other U.S. troops trapped by the surprise offensive. VOA's Kawa Omar spoke with Kurdish troops in the town of Telskuf -- the scene of what U.S. officials called a "dynamic firefight."
    Video

    Video British Lawmakers Warn EU Exit Talks Could Last A Decade

    Leaving the European Union would mean difficult negotiations that could take years to complete, according to a bipartisan group of British lawmakers. While the group did not recommend a vote either way, the lawmakers noted trade deals between the EU and non-EU states take between four and nine years on average. Henry Ridgwell reports on the mounting debate over whether Britain should stay or exit the EU as the June vote approaches.
    Video

    Video NASA Astronauts Train for Commercial Space Flights

    Since the last Shuttle flight in 2011, the United States has been relying on Russian rockets to launch fresh crews to the International Space Station. But that may change in the next few years. NASA and several private space companies are developing advanced capsules capable of taking humans into low orbit and beyond. As VOA's George Putic reports, astronauts are already training for commercial spacecraft in flight simulators.
    Video

    Video US Worried Political Chaos in Iraq Will Hurt IS Fight

    The White House is expressing concern about rising political chaos in Iraq and the impact it could have on the fight against the Islamic State. The U.S. says Iraq needs a stable, central government to help push back the group. But some say Baghdad may not have a unified government any time soon. VOA's White House correspondent Mary Alice Salinas reports.
    Video

    Video Press Freedom in Myanmar Fragile, Limited

    As Myanmar begins a new era with a democratically elected government, many issues of the past confront the new leadership. Among them is press freedom in a country where journalists have been routinely harassed or jailed.
    Video

    Video Taliban Threats Force Messi Fan to Leave Afghanistan

    A young Afghan boy, who recently received autographed shirts and a football from his soccer hero Lionel Messi, has fled his country due to safety concerns. He and his family are now taking refuge in neighboring Pakistan. VOA's Ayaz Gul reports from Islamabad.
    Video

    Video Major Rubbish Burning Experiment Captures Destructive Greenhouse Gases

    The world’s first test to capture environmentally harmful carbon dioxide gases from the fumes of burning rubbish took place recently in Oslo, Norway. The successful experiment at the city's main incinerator plant, showcased a method for capturing most of the carbon dioxide. VOA’s Deborah Block has more.
    Video

    Video EU Visa Block Threatens To Derail EU-Turkey Migrant Deal

    Turkish citizens could soon benefit from visa-free travel to Europe as part of the recent deal between the EU and Ankara to stem the flow of refugees. In return, Turkey has pledged to keep the migrants on Turkish soil and crack down on those who are smuggling them. Brussels is set to publish its latest progress report Wednesday — but as Henry Ridgwell reports from London, many EU lawmakers are threatening to veto the deal over human rights concerns.
    Video

    Video Tensions Rising Ahead of South China Sea Ruling

    As the Philippines awaits an international arbitration ruling on a challenge to China's claims to nearly all of the South China Sea, it is already becoming clear that regardless of which way the decision goes, the dispute is intensifying. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
    Video

    Video Painting Captures President Lincoln Assassination Aftermath

    A newly restored painting captures the moments following President Abraham Lincoln’s assassination in 1865. It was recently unveiled at Ford’s Theatre in Washington, where America’s 16th president was shot. It is the only known painting by an eyewitness that captures the horror of that fateful night. VOA’s Julie Taboh tells us more about the painting and what it took to restore it to its original condition.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora