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

IS Militants Release 49 Turkish Hostages

Turkey's state-run Anadolu news agency reports that no ransom was paid and no conditions accepted for the hostages' release; few details of the release are known More

Photogallery IS Attacks Send Thousands of Syrian Kurds Fleeing to Turkey

Syrian Observatory for Human Rights says more than 300 Kurdish fighters crossed into Syria from Turkey to defend a Kurdish area from attack by the Islamic militants More

Video Sierra Leone's Ebola Lockdown Continues

Thousands of health workers are going door to door in the West African country of 6 million, informing people of how to avoid Ebola, handing out soap 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.
Fears Ebola Outbreak ‘Beyond Our Capability to Contain’i
X
Jeff Seldin
September 20, 2014 10:28 PM
Each day brings with it new warnings about the deadly Ebola outbreak already blamed for killing more than 2,600 people across West Africa. And while countries and international organizations like the United Nations are starting to come through on promises of help for those most affected, the unprecedented speed with which the virus has spread is raising questions about the international response. VOA's Jeff Seldin has more from Washington.
Video

Video Fears Ebola Outbreak ‘Beyond Our Capability to Contain’

Each day brings with it new warnings about the deadly Ebola outbreak already blamed for killing more than 2,600 people across West Africa. And while countries and international organizations like the United Nations are starting to come through on promises of help for those most affected, the unprecedented speed with which the virus has spread is raising questions about the international response. VOA's Jeff Seldin has more from Washington.
Video

Video Iran, World Powers Seek Progress in Nuclear Talks

Iran and the five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council plus Germany, known as the P5 + 1, have started a new round of talks on Iran's nuclear program. VOA State Department correspondent Pam Dockins reports that as the negotiations take place in New York, a U.S. envoy is questioning Iran's commitment to peaceful nuclear activity.
Video

Video Obama Goes to UN With Islamic State, Ebola on Agenda

President Obama goes to the United Nations General Assembly to rally nations to support a coalition against Islamic State militants in Iraq and Syria. He also will look for nations to back his plan to fight the Ebola virus in West Africa. As VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports, Obama’s efforts reflect new moves by the U.S. administration to take a leading role in addressing world crises.
Video

Video Migrants Caught in No-Man's Land Called Calais

The deaths of hundreds of migrants in the Mediterranean this week has only recast the spotlight on the perils of reaching Europe. And for those forunate enough to reach a place like Calais, France, only find that their problems aren't over. Lisa Bryant has the story.
Video

Video Westgate Siege Anniversary Brings Back Painful Memories

One year after it happened, the survivors of the terror attack on Nairobi's Westgate Shopping Mall still cannot shake the images of that tragic incident. For VOA, Mohammed Yusuf tells the story of victims still waiting for the answer to the question 'how could this happen?'
Video

Video Militant Assault in Syria Displaces Thousands of Kurds

A major assault by Islamic State militants on Kurds in Syria has sent a wave of new refugees to the Turkish border, where they were stopped by Turkish border security. Turkey is already hosting about 700,000 Syrian refugees who fled the civil war between the government and the opposition. But the government in Ankara has a history of strained relations with Turkey's Kurdish minority. Zlatica Hoke reports Turkey is asking for international help.
Video

Video Whaling Summit Votes to Uphold Ban on Japan Whale Hunt

The International Whaling Commission, meeting in Slovenia, has voted to uphold a court ruling banning Japan from hunting whales in the Antarctic Ocean. Conservationists hailed the ruling as a victory, but Tokyo says it will submit revised plans for a whale hunt in 2015. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video A Dinosaur Fit for Land and Water

Residents and tourists in Washington D.C. can now examine a life-size replica of an unusual dinosaur that lived almost a hundred million years ago in northern Africa. Scientists say studying the behemoth named Spinosaurus helps them better understand how some prehistoric animals adapted to life on land and in water. The Spinosaurus replica is on display at the National Geographic museum. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Iraqi Kurdistan Church Helps Christian Children Cope find shelter in churches in the Kurdish capital, Irbil

In the past six weeks, tens of thousands of Iraqi Christians have been forced to flee their homes by Islamic State militants and find shelter in churches in the Kurdish capital, Irbil. Despite U.S. airstrikes in the region, the prospect of people returning home is still very low and concerns are starting to grow over the impact this is having on the displaced youth. Sebastian Meyer reports from Irbil on how one church is coping.


Carnage and mayhem are part of daily life in northern Nigeria, the result of a terror campaign by the Islamist group Boko Haram. Fears are growing that Nigeria’s government may not know how to counter it, and may be making things worse. More

AppleAndroid