• Thu
  • Apr 17, 2014
  • Updated: 5:00am

Edward Snowden

30-year-old American Edward Snowden, a contract employee at the National Security Agency, is the whistleblower behind significant revelations that surfaced in June 2013 about the US government's top secret, extensive domestic surveillance programmes. Snowden flew to Hong Kong from Hawaii in May 2013, and supplied confidential US government documents to media outlets including the Guardian


US assures Russia Snowden 'will not face torture'

US hands assurances to Russia over treatment of fugitive should he be sent home as Kremlin reveals security agencies are in talks over his fate

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 27 July, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 27 July, 2013, 2:49am

The United States has made a formal promise to Russia not to torture or execute whistle-blower Edward Snowden if he is sent home to face charges of illegally disclosing government secrets.

The news emerged as the Kremlin said Russian and US security agencies were in talks over the 30-year-old former US spy agency contractor's fate.

Snowden has been stuck in the transit area of Moscow's Sheremetyevo airport for more than a month despite Washington's calls to hand him over.

Russia has refused to extradite Snowden, who leaked details of a secret US surveillance operation including phone and internet data, and is considering his request for temporary asylum.

In a letter sent on Tuesday and released yesterday, US Attorney General Eric Holder wrote that he sought to dispel claims about what would happen to Snowden if he is sent home.

"Mr Snowden has filed papers seeking temporary asylum in Russia on the grounds that if he were returned to the United States, he would be tortured and would face the death penalty. These claims are entirely without merit," Holder wrote.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said Russia's FSB and its US counterpart, the FBI, were in talks over Snowden, whose stay at Sheremetyevo airport has further strained Moscow-Washington ties. Russian President Vladimir Putin had expressed "strong determination", he said, not to let relations suffer "no matter how the situation develops".

Putin, a former KGB spy, has said Snowden could be granted sanctuary in Russia only if he stopped actions that could harm the United States.

A US law enforcement official following the case confirmed the FBI has been in discussions with the FSB about Snowden for some time now, but added he was not aware of any breakthroughs or imminent developments.

Russian security expert Andrei Soldatov said the talks might be about how to secure a promise from Snowden to stop leaking secrets if he were granted sanctuary in Russia.

"The US maybe understand they are not going to get Snowden, so my theory is that they are trying to save face and stop Snowden from publishing new exposes," Soldatov said, adding that he was sceptical this could be done. Snowden's supporters have worried he could face the same fate as Private First Class Bradley Manning, the US soldier on trial for providing documents to WikiLeaks.

On his arrest, Manning was placed in solitary confinement for up to 23 hours a day with guards checking on him every few minutes.

Torture is unlawful in the United States. If he returns to the United States, Mr Snowden would promptly be brought before a civilian court

"Torture is unlawful in the United States," Holder wrote, without explicit reference to Manning. "If he returns to the United States, Mr Snowden would promptly be brought before a civilian court."

Snowden has been offered asylum by three Latin American countries, but none of them is reachable directly on commercial flights from Moscow, where he flew in from Hong Kong on June 23. He has also had his passport revoked by the US.

His hopes of leaving Sheremetyevo airport transit zone, which Russia insists is formally not its territory, were dashed at the last minute on Wednesday, prompting a wave of speculation about possible political intervention or a hitch.

A Russian lawyer assisting Snowden in his asylum request, Anatoly Kucherena, who also sits on an advisory group to the Russian authorities, said his client feared he could face torture or the death penalty if returned to the United States.

Russia's federal migration service has up to three months to consider Snowden's temporary asylum request filed on July 16.

An official was quoted yesterday as saying that could be extended to six months.


Related topics


This article is now closed to comments

By the way, I'm shocked to learn that the US will not torture or execute the weasel traitor, Snowden. The only good Edward Snowden is a dead one.
Lets be realistic. Russia doesn't care a jot for Snowden's welfare and couldn't give a monkey's toss should he be executed or tortured if he were to be returned to the US. Russia is using Snowden as a pawn in its game of chess with the US: the pawn will be sacrificed sooner or later.
whew! i am so relieved!!!! no death penalty...
a "sweet deal" for Snowden's return? -:)
Long term solitary confinement - as happened to PFC Manning - in most countries is considered torture and inhuman treatment.
Can US assurance be taken at its face value? Russia will have no control over Snowden once he is in the USA. Snowden is safe in Russia,as Seal commondos will not dare to take an operation in Russia,to capture Snowden,as they did in Pakistan for the late Osama Bin Laden. Had Snowden been in any other country,Seal commondos would have brought him to the US. All international laws are only on paper. What happened with Bulgaria president is still fresh,as his plane was searched in an European nation ,on the suspicion of Snowden travelling with him. If this can happen with the president of a soverign nation,what is the guarantee that Snowden will not be tortured in the US?
bad geography - it was the Bolivian President not Bulgarian.
there is no free lunch - Snowden will get his Russian travel paper on a **** for tat basis signed on a FAPSI letterhead.
Then FAPSI will have the knowhow to tap into the NSA.
Of course he will not get executed in the US. Like many others he will just have an 'accident'. And this country has the nerve to accuse other countries of human rights violations or war crimes. The biggest joke of this century.
human rights ? highest world per capita incarceration rate is in USA
Should anyone around the world even believe anything the Americans say anymore...........just give them the middle finger and tell them to go keep monitoring and hacking the internet........it's the only thing the NSA is capable of.
Also visible in the Animal kingdom, the brutal Strength is no better or worse than the deadly Deception.
Two are the Hands to cross and shape our World
to mold It like a vase of clay and put their own seal
the scepter of command, illusion of reward
to drive at will one Destiny with no steering wheel
In the last World war, the Hand of Strength and Hand of Deception have crossed once again.
Strength personified by the Axis and Deception by the Allies.
Gestapo versus CIA.
One long scar still bleeds over this Planet.
With Strength defeated, the winners of the War have extended their cunning Hand, robbed the whole World and transformed each town in a place where Deception is the only reality.
Two new blocks were soon formed right after the War.
UK and USA celebrated Capitalism
Russia instead was infatuated with Communism
The Two Hands had only changed gloves


SCMP.com Account