U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder wrote a letter to the Russian minister of justice assuring the Russian government that the U.S. will not seek the death penalty for National Security Agency leak source Edward Snowden if he is returned to the U.S.
Seeking to push back on assertions Snowden made in his request for temporary asylum in Russia, Holder also said in the letter that the U.S. will not torture Snowden.
“We also understand from press reports that Mr. Snowden has filed papers seeking temporary asylum in Russia on the grounds that if he were returned to the United States, he would be tortured and would face the death penalty,” Holder wrote in the letter to Russian Minister of Justice Alexander Vladimirovich Konovalov.
“These claims are entirely without merit.”
Holder explained that the charges Snowden currently faces in the U.S. do not carry the possibility of being charged with the death penalty.
In June, Snowden was charged with three felonies that each carry a maximum of 10 years in prison: Theft of government property, unauthorised communication of national defence information, and willful communication of classified communications intelligence information to an unauthorised person.
Holder went on to say that the U.S. would not torture Snowden because, simply, it is unlawful in the U.S.
“We believe that these assurances eliminate these asserted grounds for Mr. Snowden’s claim that he should be treated as a refugee or granted asylum, temporary or otherwise,” Holder wrote.
Here’s the full letter:
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