Russia will not surrender the former spy agency contractor Edward Snowden wanted by the USA for revealing information on secret U.S. surveillance programs involving phone and Internet data, according to a statement Friday by Dmitry Peskov, a spokesman for Russian President Vladimir Putin. He restated Moscow’s stance a day after US Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. offered to issue a special passport for Snowden if the whistleblower would accept a return to the USA, where he will face charges for leaking information on the secret surveillance programs. Meanwhile, Snowden’s father asked President Barack Obama to order Holder to drop the charges against his son.
“Russia has never extradited anyone, and will not extradite,” Peskov told the media. His declaration came out as Russia security agency, the FSB, held talks with the FBI regarding Snowden, who is still the transit zone at Moscow airport, waiting to be granted asylum status.
Peskov said that he believes that Snowden will stop harming Washington if he is granted asylum in Russia. Russian President, Vladmir Putin, also said a week ago that his hope was that Snowden will stop leaking information harming the USA if he were granted asylum status.
Snowden’s US passport was cancelled while he was on a plane heading to Moscow. The head of the public council of the Russian Federal Migration Service, Vladimir Volokh, recognized that the only thing that showed that the individual was Snowden was Sonwden’s ”words”. “The passport he had has been canceled,” Volokh said referring to Interfax.
In his letter to the Russians, Holder gave guarantees about Snowden’s status, should he be extradited. Holder wrote “Despite the revocation of his passport on June 22, 2013, Mr. Snowden remains a U.S. citizen.” The letter continued “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,”
Snowden, in his request for temporary asylum, stated that he is being pursued by the US government and he fears for his life, safety, that he will be tortured or receive the death penalty. Holder retorted, saying “the charges he (Snowden) 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.”
Holder gave more precision as he added, “Torture is unlawful in the United States… If he (Snowden) 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.”
This letter was written while Snowden’s father, Lon urged President Obama to order Holder to drop the charges against his son. The Washington Post reported that the letter from Snowden’s father letter was mailed Friday. “We also find reprehensible your administration’s Espionage Act prosecution of Edward for disclosures indistinguishable from those which routinely find their way into the public domain via your high level appointees for partisan political advantage,’’ wrote, Snowden’s father.
Sources; RT News, New Times and Washington Post.