Russia and US security services 'in talks' over Snowden

Edward Snowden
Image caption Mr Snowden has said his preferred destination would be somewhere in Latin America

The American FBI and Russian FSB security services are "in talks" over US fugitive Edward Snowden, according to the Russian president's spokesman.

However, Dmitry Peskov repeated Russia's position that it would "not hand anyone over".

Mr Snowden has been stuck in transit at a Moscow airport for the past month as he has no valid travel documents.

The US Attorney General, Eric Holder, has sought to assure Moscow he would not face the death penalty in America.

Washington wants him extradited for leaking details of surveillance programmes.

Diplomatic ructions

Mr Peskov did not specify what the nature of the talks between the agencies was.

He did, however, remind reporters that President Vladimir Putin had expressed a strong determination not to allow the case to interfere with US-Russian relations.

Mr Putin had not taken part in any discussions with the American authorities over Mr Snowden case, Mr Peskov said.

Mr Snowden "has not made any request that would require examination by the head of state", Mr Peskov added.

The Russian president has refused to hand him to the American authorities, but said he could stay in Russia only if he stopped leaking US secrets.

Mr Snowden, whose passport has been cancelled by the US, has been in the transit area of Moscow's Sheremetyevo airport since arriving from Hong Kong on 23 June.

His father, Lon Snowden, said on Friday he believes his son should stay in Russia and avoid the US, saying he had been vilified by the Obama administration and members of Congress.

"If it were me, knowing what I know now, and listening to advice of sage people like [Pentagon Papers leaker] Daniel Ellsberg... I would attempt to find a safe haven," the elder Snowden told the Associated Press news agency in a telephone interview.

On Thursday Mr Snowden's lawyer Anatoly Kucherena denied earlier reports that Edward Snowden had been given Russian travel documents.

Mr Snowden has requested temporary asylum in Russia, and said recently his favoured final destination was Latin America.

In a letter to Russian Justice Minister Alexander Konovalov, Mr Holder said that the charges against Mr Snowden were not punishable by death.

If additional charges were brought which could incur capital punishment, the US would not seek to impose such a penalty, he added.

The Snowden affair has caused diplomatic ructions around the world, upsetting close US allies and traditional enemies.

Leaks by the former CIA worker have led to revelations that the US National Security Agency (NSA) is collecting Americans' phone records.

On Wednesday evening, an attempt to block funding for the programme narrowly failed in a 205-217 vote in the US House of Representatives.

The White House had lobbied Congress to support the surveillance.

Opponents of the US, including Bolivia, Venezuela and Nicaragua, have all offered Mr Snowden asylum.