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U.S. To Russia: We Won’t Seek Death Penalty For Edward Snowden

Edward Snowden

In what appears to be an effort to persuade the Russians to reconsider their decision to refuse U.S. extradition requests, the Attorney General has said that the Justice Department will not be seeking the death penalty against Edward Snowden:

WASHINGTON — Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. said in a letter sent to the Russian minister of justice this week that the United States would not seek the death penalty against Edward J. Snowden, and would issue him a passport immediately so he could travel back to the United States.

The letter also offered reassurances that the United States would not torture Mr. Snowden, the former intelligence contractor who faces criminal charges of disclosing classified information and has been hiding in an airport in Moscow in order to evade the American authorities.

“We believe 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,” Mr. Holder said in the letter, which was sent to Justice Minister Aleksandr V. Konovalov.

A copy of the letter was provided to The New York Times on Friday by a Justice Department official, in response to questions about communications between the United States and Russian governments about Mr. Snowden’s fate.

Currently, of course, none of the charges actually carry the possibility of a death sentence. However, the possibility exists that additional charges could be filed against Snowden at some point, including charges under the Espionage Act, that would be death penalty eligible. One wonders if the U.S. would stick to this promise in the event that happened.

Here’s the letter:

Attorney Genral Letter to Russian Justice Minister by dmataconis

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About Doug Mataconis
Doug holds a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May, 2010 and also writes at Below The Beltway. Follow Doug on Twitter | Facebook

Comments

  1. Ben Wolf says:

    Holder just did more to humiliate the United States than anything Snowden has revealed or will reveal. Note also how weasel-worded the letter is: that torture is unlawful in the
    United States.
    . Unlawful means the crime is not a criminal offense, which makes sense as the Administration declined to prosecute Americans who committed hideous and illegal acts. The letter also makes clear Showden could be tortured somewhere like hmmm, Guantanamo maybe, because that isn’t in the United States.

    Not that there’s anyone left on the planet who would take Holder’s word anyway; he’s demonstrated his thorough corruption over the last 4 1/2 years.

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  2. Tillman says:

    The letter also offered reassurances that the United States would not torture Mr. Snowden, the former intelligence contractor who faces criminal charges of disclosing classified information and has been hiding in an airport in Moscow in order to evade the American authorities.

    Ah, we appear to be reaping the consequences of both the Bush administration’s torture regime and the poor treatment of Bradley Manning.

    That we’re reassuring the Russians about not torturing a wanted man? The height of hilarity.

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  3. Tran says:

    After seeing how Manning was treated I don’t know how far you can trust the Americans not to torture Snowden. Perhaps they only use “enhanced interrogation”? Remember, many neocons say that waterboarding is not torture. Anyway, this only illustrates that the USA has lost the moral high ground and shows massive hypocrisy when it protest the mistreaetment of regime opponents in China for example.

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  4. An Interested Party says:

    Anyway, this only illustrates that the USA has lost the moral high ground and shows massive hypocrisy when it protest the mistreaetment of regime opponents in China for example.

    This is certainly not a new development…

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  5. Dazedandconfused says:

    @Ben Wolf:

    Last 4 1/2 years? Remember we recently had an AG which supported justifications from the Office of Legal Council for torturing people. Yoo know who….

    On what planet is actually torturing people is more disgraceful than promising not to torture people?

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  6. Guilt by admission…I don’t think Holder realized what has done. People can hide behind the goody-2-shoes I’m innocent BS of the USA for so long, but the sad part is, those who realized the USA tortures, who then supported it, would have no problem if Snowden or anyone else is tortured….well maybe if it was someone innocent caught at the wrong place at the wrong time who was a close family member, but other than that, most of these types of people still blame woman when they get raped, they asked for it mentality, so, I like to remind these types that if they or someone they know is wrongfully accused of something or even rightfully, too bad they are being tortured, or detained indefinately, they should not have been doing whatever they were doing/wearing/reading/listening to/in the company of, etc. Then we have scum like Scalia on the SC who believes if u are sentenced to death but on appeal can show your innocence, u should still be put to death….I wonder how many pro-toture folks know that or even go along with that, unless of course it’s a close family member or friend who this should never happen to in their mind.

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