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Snowden Would Not Face Death Penalty if He Returns to US

Snowden Would Not Face Death Penalty if He Returns to US

In a letter to Russia’s Minister of Justice, Attorney General Eric Holder said that Edward Snowden would not face the death penalty or be tortured if he returned to the United States.

From the Wall Street Journal:

Attorney General Eric Holder, in a letter to Russian counterpart Alexander Vladimirovich Konovalov, said Mr. Snowden’s grounds for seeking asylum in Russia “are entirely without merit.”

The letter goes on to provide written assurances, in the hope that Russia will then deny Mr. Snowden’s appeal for temporary asylum.

“First, the United States would not seek the death penalty for Mr. Snowden should he return to the United States. The charges he faces do not carry that possibility, and the United States would not seek the death penalty even if Mr. Snowden were charged with additional, death penalty-eligible crimes,” Mr. Holder wrote.

Holder also indicated that Snowden can travel back to the US to face charges, saying “He is eligible for a limited validity passport good for direct return to the United States. The United States is willing to immediately issue such a passport to Mr. Snowden.”

The Attorney General also addressed the former NSA contractor’s claims that he would be tortured if he returned to the US.  Snowden’s request for temporary asylum in Russia has been reported by the press to be based in part on such claims.

From the Washington Post:

Holder also told Konovalov that Snowden would not be tortured if he returned to the United States and would be tried in a civilian rather than a military court, with the full protection of U.S. law.

“Torture is unlawful in the United States,” Holder wrote. “If he returns to the United States, Mr. Snowden would promptly be brought before a civilian court convened under Article III of the United States Constitution and supervised by a United States District Judge . . . Mr. Snowden would be appointed (or if so chose, could retain) counsel.”

Where the word “torture” is concerned, supporters of Snowden have often drawn comparisons to Army Private Bradley Manning, who is currently on trial for leaking hundreds of thousands of documents and other classified materials to Wikileaks.  Those sympathetic to him have long tried to argue that Manning’s treatment while held in confinement at Quantico Marine Base – where he was held in a small cell, prevented from interacting with other prisoners, and was often stripped down naked and his cell searched – was akin to “torture.”

Military personnel who supervised Manning’s confinement however testified in a pre-trial hearing in 2012 that such steps were necessary for Manning’s safety and that of other prisoners, because Manning had arrived to the base under suicide watch and continued to exhibit odd and concerning behavior, such as outbursts of screaming and babbling, licking the bars of his cell and “erratic dancing.”

A United Nations Special Rapporteur on Torture who examined Manning’s treatment denounced it as “cruel, degrading and inhuman,” but stopped short of calling it “torture.”


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I have to wonder what the US position would be if Snowden were from another country, had given the media information of a system that had been secretly put in place to violate the rights of their citizens and had arrived here to request temporary asylum. Would the USA trust assurances given by that country that Snowden would receive a fair trail?

Holder has lied to the American Congress. Why would anything he has to say to Russian officials be credible. (Not to mention that lying is allowed and frequently used to get fugitives to return voluntarily to the U.S.)

    Rick in reply to janitor. | July 27, 2013 at 12:56 am

    In the words of the late great Sam Kinnison: “Oh, c’mon! I wouldn’t lie to you ten times in a row!”

I seriously doubt that snowden would believe anything stated by that racist LIAR.

Yeah, right. And your health insurance premiums are coming down and this is the most transparent administration in history and Holder didn’t know anything about anything.

Oh, thehellwithit. Who in their right mind would trust these lying snakes?

    walls in reply to creeper. | July 26, 2013 at 2:39 pm

    Yeah, and Obama really was born in Hawaii. The fact that records of ALL FLIGHTS coming into Hawaii the week of his birth – and only the week of his birth – are missing is just a freakin’ coincidence.

In prison, Snowden, like Elvis, will feel so lonesome, he could die.

fulldroolcup | July 26, 2013 at 3:48 pm

In Stalin’s day, people like Snowden would be taken to the basement of Moscow’s Lubyanka Prison and shot. Today, journalists who run afoul of Putin and his thugs are gunned down on the street of are quietly “disappeared”.

So I find it utterly humiliating that the United States of America has to assure the KGB-run remnant of the USSR that WE will not torture or kill Snowden.

Carol Herman | July 26, 2013 at 4:02 pm

RIIGHT. Snowden has nothing better to do than want a piece of our juice-tess system. Are there lawyers that desperate to be on TV and in the spotlight? Maybe, they can throw in free M&M’s?

Putin’s won.

Plus, think of all the ways to write a creative resume? “I was a janitor at the CIA, and I found a whole bunch of secrets not shredded.” “To protect the secrets, there was a used condom on top.”

All we have to do is trust the same administration that armed the drug cartels.

Carol Herman | July 26, 2013 at 5:24 pm

In September, obama flies to russia. Maybe, when he gets off the plane he’s carrying a large white butterfly net? He could say he came in peace. And, wants to take a certain “butterfly” home?

Or? He could tell Putin he’d trade his teleprompter for Snowden, no?

Carol Herman | July 26, 2013 at 5:27 pm

In stalin’s day there were real spies to trade.

And, then, flying into russian air space, we named the plane U2.

Hey, I think we traded for Gary Powers.

Carol Herman | July 26, 2013 at 6:19 pm

… And, this article is not from the Onion!

BannedbytheGuardian | July 26, 2013 at 6:20 pm

Maybe America could trade their whole troupe of Czars .

A nice train trip to Ekaterinburg & shot up in a storm of blood & precious jewels.

Might work.