Moscow has formally rejected a U.S. request to extradite former National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden, despite Washington's promise not to execute him for leaking information about the government's secret surveillance program.
An American official confirmed that Russia turned down the extradition request by Attorney General Eric Holder contained in a July 23 letter to Russian Justice Minister Aleksandr V. Konovalav, according to The Washington Free Beacon
Russia's state-controlled press reportedly said Tuesday the government would not turn over Snowden, who had been staying in a transit zone of Moscow's Sheremetyevo airport since arriving from Hong Kong on June 23.
"Russia's position remains unchanged; U.S. citizen Edward Snowden cannot be extradited to the United States, because he has not crossed [the border] into Russia, and also because the two countries have no bilateral agreement on extradition," an official was quoted as saying.
On Thursday, Snowden's lawyer, Anatoly Kucherena, told reporters that Russia had granted Snowden temporary asylum
"I have just seen him off. He has left for a secure location. . . Security is a very serious matter for him," said Kucherena.
In his letter, Holder denied that Snowden would be executed if returned to face charges of disclosing classified information.
"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," Holder wrote to his Russian counterpart.
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