Snowden, capital punishment and why the West won't get him back

The heated debate surrounding NSA leaker Edward Snowden usually revolves around two extreme positions: Some consider him a hero and a whistle-blower worthy of clemency, while others consider his acts treasonous and believe he should be subject to the harshest punishment in our penal system.

Ironically, that very same penal system makes getting Snowden back to the United States nearly impossible.

The reason? The punishment meted to traitors can include death. And nearly all our allied nations and many others refuse to extradite criminal suspects to the United States if they are potentially subjected to capital punishment.

Which is why in the case of Snowden, Attorney General Eric Holder wrote a letter to the Russian Justice Minister last year saying that he would not seek the death penalty in his case. The letter, which accused Snowden of theft and espionage, was intended to erase the death penalty extradition hindrance. Holder went on to clarify that β€œthe United States would not seek the death penalty even if Mr. Snowden were charged with additional death penalty-eligible crimes.” (read more)