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article imageOp-Ed: US won’t execute or torture Snowden, says Attorney General

By Paul Wallis     Jul 26, 2013 in World
Sydney - In a letter to Russia, US Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. has said that the US will not seek the death penalty, or torture Edward Snowden. The main result of this missive to Moscow has been an outbreak of skepticism.
In a letter to Russia, US Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. has said that the US will not seek the death penalty, or torture Edward Snowden. The main result of this missive to Moscow has been an outbreak of skepticism.
The New York Times:
A copy of the letter was provided to The New York Times on Friday by a Justice Department official, in response to questions about communications between the United States and Russian governments about Mr. Snowden’s fate.
The charges Mr. Snowden faces in the United States do not carry the death penalty, the letter said, adding that the United States would not seek the death penalty “even if Mr. Snowden were charged with additional death penalty-eligible crimes.”
The US doesn’t have an extradition treaty with Russia, and the Russians apparently aren’t too impressed. Despite a threat by the administration that a summit meeting between President Obama and Vladimir Putin might be cancelled, the Russian reaction has been rather tepid.
The Kremlin’s spokesman, Dmitri S. Peskov, restated Russia’s refusal to extradite Mr. Snowden, citing the lack of an extradition treaty between the two countries. “We have never surrendered anyone,” he said in a statement reported by the Interfax news agency, “and we will never do so in the future.”
More interesting by far is the fact that The New York Times readers didn’t buy it, either. Some commented on the irony of the US making a statement like this to Russia, in historical context. Others commented that Snowden is accused of a crime in exposing criminal behaviour by government security agencies. Many didn’t trust the justice system.
U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder
U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder
U.S. Justice Department
The treatment of Bradley Manning was also mentioned as a disproof of the “no torture” motif. It does depend what you call torture and what you don’t, in this instance.
The Russians are legally correct in exercising their right to refuse extradition in the absence of a formal extradition treaty. There is no due process. In effect, they’d have to arrest an asylum seeker and hand him over. Nor are they under any sort of obligation to do so under these circumstances. They can receive representations, and that’s about it.
Meanwhile, the public’s worries about surveillance are receiving zero traction in the political arena. Apparently democracy isn’t about what people want, it’s about what politicians are prepared to discuss. The entire issue has had its belch of indignation, followed by zip in terms of actually addressing the issues, and the bill to manage NSA surveillance has been KO’d in Congress. End of issue for anyone who could reasonably be expected to give a damn?
Not quite. According to Rolling Stone, a “congressional coalition” has formed.
An amendment to the annual defense spending bill – co-sponsored by young, libertarian Michigan Republican Justin Amash and veteran, liberal Michigan Democrat John Conyers – contended that it should not. It failed on Wednesday night by just 12 votes: 205 in favor, 217 against.
A Round Two is quite possible, with these numbers, in an amended version. Officially, neither party was in favor of the amendment, but the numbers speak for themselves, and the bipartisan vote is encouraging, to say the least. Don’t hold your breath, but it’s possible that sanity might find its way back in to the Rest Home of Power yet.
This opinion article was written by an independent writer. The opinions and views expressed herein are those of the author and are not necessarily intended to reflect those of DigitalJournal.com
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