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US tells Russia it won’t torture or kill Snowden

Washington, July 26: Attorney-general Eric H. Holder Jr said in a letter sent to the Russian minister of justice this week that the US would not seek the death penalty against Edward J. Snowden, and would issue him a passport immediately so he could travel back to the US.

The letter also offered reassurances that the US would not torture 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 Snowden’s claim that he should be treated as a refugee or granted asylum, temporary or otherwise,” 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 today by a justice department official, in response to questions about communications between the US and Russian governments about Snowden’s fate.

The charges Snowden faces in the US do not carry the death penalty, the letter said, adding that the US would not seek the death penalty “even if Snowden were charged with additional death penalty-eligible crimes”.

Holder said that Snowden’s claims that he is unable to travel are false and that the US was willing to issue him a special passport so he could return.

“Despite the revocation of his passport on June 22, 2013, Snowden remains a US citizen,” Holder said.

“He is eligible for a limited validity passport good for direct return to the US. The US is willing to immediately issue such a passport to Snowden.”

President Vladimir Putin had expressed “strong determination”not to let relations suffer over the dispute.

 
 
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