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

ASEAN Ministers to Push for S. China Sea Agreements

According to documents obtained by VOA Khmer, ministers will stand up for 'freedom of navigation, unimpeded lawful maritime commerce, trade and over flight' More

Puerto Rico Defaults on $58M Debt Payment

Payment was due Saturday, default is first in country's 117 years as a United States possession More

Turkish Public Fears Jihadists More Than Kurds

Turkey facing twin threats of terrorism by Islamic State and PKK Kurdish separatists, says President Erdogan’s ruling AK Party 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.
Iraqi Yazidis Fear Death of Their Communityi
X
Sharon Behn
August 03, 2015 2:23 PM
A year ago on August 3, Islamic State militants stormed the homelands of Iraq’s Yazidi minority, killing hundreds of men and enslaving thousands of women. The scenes of desperate Yazidi families crowding on the top of Sinjar mountain without food or water spurred Kurdish fighters into action, an emergency airlift and the start of the U.S. airstrike campaign against the Islamic State Sunni extremists. VOA's Sharon Benh reports from northern Iraq.
Video

Video Iraqi Yazidis Fear Death of Their Community

A year ago on August 3, Islamic State militants stormed the homelands of Iraq’s Yazidi minority, killing hundreds of men and enslaving thousands of women. The scenes of desperate Yazidi families crowding on the top of Sinjar mountain without food or water spurred Kurdish fighters into action, an emergency airlift and the start of the U.S. airstrike campaign against the Islamic State Sunni extremists. VOA's Sharon Benh reports from northern Iraq.
Video

Video Bangkok Warned It Soon Could Be Submerged

Italy's Venice and America's New Orleans are not the only cities gradually submerging. The nearly ten million residents of the Bangkok urban area now must confront warnings the city could become uninhabitable in a few decades. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from the Thai capital.
Video

Video Inclusive Gym Gets People With Disabilities in Fitness Spirit

Individuals with special needs are 58 percent more likely to be obese than the general population. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control, they also have an increased likelihood of anxiety, depression and social isolation. But a sports club outside Washington wants to make a difference in these people's lives. With Carol Pearson narrating, VOA's June Soh reports.
Video

Video Astronauts Train Underwater for Deep Space Missions

Manned deep space missions are still a long way off, but space agencies are already testing procedures, equipment and human stamina for operations in extreme environment conditions. Small groups of astronauts take turns in spending days in an underwater lab, off Florida’s southern coast, simulating future missions to some remote world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Special Olympics Show Competitors' Skill, Determination

Special Olympics competitions will wrap up Saturday in Los Angeles, and the closing ceremony for athletes with intellectual disabilities will be held Sunday night. In a week of competition, athletes have shown what they can do through skill and determination. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan reports.
Video

Video Civil Rights Leaders Struggled to Achieve Voting Rights Act

Fifty years ago, lawmakers approved, and U.S. President Lyndon Johnson signed, the Voting Rights Act of 1965. The measure outlawed racial discrimination in voting, giving millions of blacks in many parts of the southern United States federal enforcement of the right to vote. Correspondent Chris Simkins introduces us to some civil rights leaders who were on the front lines in the struggle for voting rights.
Video

Video Shooter’s Grill: Serving Food with a Touch of the Second Amendment

Shooter's Grill, a restaurant in Rifle, Colorado, attracts visitors from all over the world as well as local patrons. The reason? Waitresses openly carry loaded firearms as they serve food, and customers are welcome to carry them, too. VOA's Enming Liu and Lin Yang paid a visit to Shooter's Grill, and heard different opinions about this unique establishment.
Video

Video Despite Controversy, Business Owner Continues Sale of Confederate Flags

At Cooter’s, a store in rural Sperryville, Virginia, about 120 kilometers west of Washington, D.C., Confederate flags are flying off the shelves. The red, white and blue battle flag, with 13 white stars representing the Confederate states, was carried by southern forces during the U.S. Civil War in the 1860s. The South had seceded from the Union over several key issues of disagreement, including slavery. VOA’s Deborah Block has the story.
Video

Video Booming London Property a ‘Haven for Dirty Money’

Billions of dollars of so-called ‘dirty money’ from the proceeds of crime - especially from Russia - are being laundered through the London property market, according to anti-corruption activists. As Henry Ridgwell reports from the British capital, the government has pledged to crack down on the practice.
Video

Video Hometown of Boy Scouts of America Founder Reacts to Gay Leader Decision

Ottawa, Illinois, is the hometown of W.D. Boyce, who founded the Boy Scouts of America in 1910. In Ottawa, where Scouting remains an important part of the legacy of the community, the end of the organization's ban on openly gay adult leaders was seen as inevitable. VOA's Kane Farabaugh reports.

VOA Blogs