US Attorney General Eric Holder has offered Russia assurances that Edward Snowden would not face the death penalty, nor would he be tortured, if he were returned to the United States. The Justice Department just released documents, dated July 23, 2013, with Holder’s plea to convince the Russian government to refuse Snowden’s asylum. In the letter to Russian Justice Minister Alexander Konovalov, Holder stated that, as yet, the former security contractor has not been charged with a “capital crime” and that his rights would be respected.
“We believe that these assurances eliminate the asserted grounds for Mr. Snowden’s claim that he should be treated as a refugee or granted asylum, temporary or otherwise,” Holder affirmed.
Charged with espionage and theft of government property that resulted in the leaks of two secret US government surveillance programs, Snowden is a fugitive who has been living at the Moscow airport since June 23, 2013. He now plans to cross into Russia and is waiting for documents that would allow him to escape the airport, according to Russian authorities.
Holder wrote in the letter that Snowden was still a US citizen and could receive limited travel documents to expedite his return. Currently Snowden has had his passport revoked and has applied to Russia for refugee status. Moscow has indicated a wait of up to three months for a decision on full asylum.