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Snowden will not face death penalty, US attorney general tells Russia

The US will not seek the death penalty for NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden, Eric Holder said in a letter sent this week.

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Fugitive NSA contractor Edward Snowden. (YouTube/Screengrab)

The United States will not torture Edward Snowden, nor seek the death penalty for the National Security Agency whistleblower, Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. wrote in a letter sent to the Russian minister of justice this week.

Snowden is currently hiding out in Moscow’s Sheremetyevo Airport while he attempts to obtain asylum from a sympathetic country.

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“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,” Holder wrote in the letter, a copy of which was given to the New York Times on Friday by a Justice Department official.

According to the Wall Street Journal:

It is common for the US to promise not to seek the death penalty against individuals being sought in other countries, because even America's closest allies won't turn over suspects if they believe that person might be executed.

Holder said Snowden would promptly face a civilian court, where he would "receive all the protections that United States law provides to persons charged with federal criminal offenses,” including an attorney, a public trial and a right to testify.

The US is ready to issue a special passport to Snowden so he can return to the United States, Holder added.

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

More from GlobalPost: Snowden does not have pass to leave Moscow airport (UPDATES)

http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/regions/americas/united-states/130726/snowden-will-not-face-death-penalty-us-attorney-