International Law

US won’t seek death penalty for Snowden, Holder tells Russians

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Eric Holder

Attorney General Eric Holder wrote in a letter this week to the Russian government that National Security Agency systems analyst Edward Snowden won’t face the death penalty if he returns to the U.S.

The letter, dated July 23 and sent to Alexander Vladimirovich Konovalov, the Russian minister of justice, follows media reports that Snowden, who leaked information on largely secret electronic surveillance programs, seeks temporary asylum in Russia on grounds he would be tortured and would face the death penalty if he returned to the U.S., the Associated Press reported.

Should Snowden return to the U.S., he would be brought before a civilian court and receive “all the protections that United States law provides,’” Holder wrote in the letter, according to the AP. Holder included assurances that Snowden would not face the death penalty, even if he were charged with additional crimes, nor be tortured, as “torture is unlawful in the United States,” the AP reports.

Holder also confirmed in the letter that, according to the Post, Snowden is able to travel on a limited validity passport to return directly to the United States.

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