“I can report that the United States is prepared to provide to the Russian government the following assurances regarding the treatment Mr Snowden would face upon return to the United States,” attorney general Eric Holder wrote in a letter to the Russian minister of justice Alexander Vladimirovich Konovalov on July 23.
“First, the United States would not seek the death penalty for Mr Snowden should he return to the United States.”
And, “Mr Snowden will not be tortured. Torture is unlawful in the United States”, Holder said in the letter.
Treason and espionage are punishable by death in the US.
Snowden stands charged with unauthorized disclosure of national defense information, unauthorized disclosure of classified information and theft of government property, in a complaint filed on June 14.
Russia has not responded to Holder’s letter yet, or to Snowden’s application for asylum. The authorities have only made a general point that if he wants to stay, he must abandon activities damaging to the United States.
On his return, Holder said in the letter, Snowden will be tried in a civilian court with all “the protections United States law provides”.