Attorney General Eric H Holder Jr said in a letter sent to the Russian minister of justice this week that the United States would not seek the death penalty against Edward Snowden,and would issue him a passport immediately so he could travel back to the United States.
The letter also offered reassurances that the United States would not torture Snowden,the former intelligence contractor who faces criminal charges of disclosing classified information and has been hiding in an airport in Moscow in order to evade the American authorities.
We believe these assurances eliminate these asserted grounds for Snowdens claim that he should be treated as a refugee or granted asylum,temporary or otherwise, Holder said in the letter,which was sent to Justice Minister Aleksandr V Konovalov.
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 Snowdens fate.
The charges 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 Snowden were charged with additional death penalty-eligible crimes.
Holder said Snowdens claims that he is unable to travel are false and that the United States was willing to issue him a special passport so he could return.
Despite the revocation of his passport on June 22,2013,Snowden remains a US citizen, Holder said. He is eligible for a limited validity passport good for direct return to the US. The United States is willing to immediately issue such a passport to Snowden.
Halliburton admits destroying US oil disaster evidence,to pay damages
Halliburton,the US oil services giant,has admitted destroying evidence relating to the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil rig explosion in the Gulf of Mexico,the worst such disaster in American history.
A Justice Department statement released late Thursday said the company had agreed to plead guilty to criminal conduct that occurred when it was carrying out its own post-accident investigation more than three years ago.
Eleven died and 4.9 million barrels of oil gushed into the Gulf over a three-month period after the explosion,with oil giant BP who leased Deepwater Horizon ending up paying billions of dollars in compensation and cleanup costs. Halliburton Energy Services,BPs contractor,had been accused by the British oil giant of destroying evidence. In addition to a guilty plea which is subject to court approval Halliburton has agreed to pay the maximum statutory fine of $200,000. The company said in a statement that it would make a separate and voluntary $55 million payment to the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation. PTI