Attorney General Eric Holder has told Russia's justice minister that the United States will not seek the death penalty for former U.S. intelligence contractor Edward Snowden.
In a letter dated July 23 and released three days later, Holder also said Snowden would not be tortured and would have all the protections of the U.S. civilian court system if he were sent home.
Snowden has been living at a Moscow airport for over a month and has asked for temporary Russian asylum.
He has received asylum offers from several South American states but has no valid passport since Washington withdrew his U.S. passport after he fled to Hong Kong following his disclosure of classified information about U.S. electronic surveillance.
The United States wants to try him on espionage charges.
The revelations have sparked extensive debate in the United States about limits on government intrusions into its citizens' privacy, as well as embarrassed Washington in the eyes of allies on whom it appears to have been spying.
Earlier on July 26, Russian President Vladimir Putin's spokesman said Putin was determined not to allow a dispute over Snowden to harm Moscow's ties with Washington.
The spokesman, Dmitry Peskov, said Russia's Federal Security Service (FSB) and the FBI were in talks over Snowden's fate.
He added that Putin himself was not involved in any such talks.
Putin had said Snowden must stop leaking U.S. secrets if he wanted to remain in Russia.
Peskov did not say whether Snowden has pledged to do that.
Based on reporting by Reuters, AP, Interfax, and ITAR-TASS