The United States has made assurances to Russia that it will not kill or torture Edward Snowden of he is handed over, insisting they just want to talk.

Mr Snowden has been hiding at the Sheremetyevo airport in Moscow since June, he has reportedly applied for temporary asylum in Russia.

The former-CIA worker fears torture or execution if sent back to the US, where he will be put on trial for disclosing details of massive US surveillance. The fears are partly based in information Snowden was involved in leaking, detailing the routine torture practices undertaken at the United States' Guantanamo Bay facility for international and domestic prisoners.

In an attempt to get Moscow to hand him back, US attorney general Eric Holder has written to the Russian justice minister Alexander Konovalov, informing him that Mr Snowden will be tried in a civil court and will not be tortured or face the death penalty. The US Judge believes the letter removes any grounds that may underpin the asylum claim.

The entire situation has strained the never-wonderful relationship between the US and Russia. Reports today say a Kremlin spokesman indicated that Mr Snowden's fate is not on president Vladimir Putin's immediate agenda.