So there’s that.

U.S. authorities say National Security Agency leaker Edward Snowden wouldn’t face the death penalty—and also promise he wouldn’t be tortured—in a new letter hoping to persuade Russia not to grant him asylum or refugee status.

Attorney General Eric Holder, in a letter to Russian counterpart Alexander Vladimirovich Konovalov, said Mr. Snowden’s grounds for seeking asylum in Russia “are entirely without merit.”


Holder’s letter to Russia on Snowden
The letter goes on to provide written assurances, in the hope that Russia will then deny Mr. Snowden’s appeal for temporary asylum.

“First, the United States would not seek the death penalty for Mr. Snowden should he return to the United States. 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,” Mr. Holder wrote.

Obviously, the most important thing at the moment is to find out exactly what Snowden has leaked thus far and keep him from sharing anything else. Getting the Russians to play nice on any issue is always a crapshoot, even after this administration has mostly done whatever the Moscow has wanted.

This is a fairly standard diplomatic move that should have been made sooner. But Holder had to go after George Zimmerman and Texas first. Priorities, you know.