Attorney General Eric Holder has told the Russian government that the U.S. will not seek the death penalty for former National Security Agency systems analyst Edward Snowden.
In a letter dated July 23, the attorney general said the criminal charges Snowden faces do not carry the death penalty and that the U.S. will not seek the death penalty even if Snowden were charged with additional death penalty-eligible crimes.
Holder said his letter follows news reports that Snowden, who leaked information on largely secret electronic surveillance programs, has filed papers seeking temporary asylum in Russia on grounds that if he were returned to the United States, he would be tortured and would face the death penalty.
The attorney general's letter was sent to Alexander Vladimirovich Konovalov, the Russian minister of justice.
Father of Snowden criticizes lawmakers
Meanwhile, the father of Edward Snowden is castigating lawmakers who voted this week to spare a government surveillance program his son exposed.
On NBC's "Today" show Friday, Lon Snowden said there's been a concerted effort by some members of Congress to "demonize" his son. He said lawmakers should be more focused on whether the NSA's collection of the phone records of millions of Americans is constitutional.
The House voted 217-205 Wednesday to spare the NSA surveillance program.
Snowden is believed to have been staying at the Moscow airport transit zone since last month. He has applied for temporary asylum.
Snowden said he has not had any recent direct contact with his son. But said he's proud of him for sharing "the truth with the American people."