US Criminals Abroad: Don't expect help

May 03, 2013, 4:13 PM GMT+0

Americans think that the government shouldn't take action to help Americans convicted of crimes abroad, even if the punishment is far harsher than it would be in the US.

The State Department says that around 3,500 Americans are arrested abroad every year. Recently an American man, Kenneth Bae, was sentenced to 15 years in prison in North Korea accused of being a spy. The US government will provide basic assistance to Americans facing criminal charges abroad but rarely intervenes to secure the release of Americans abroad.

The latest YouGov research shows that Americans are generally happy with the current system. Even when Americans face far harsher punishments than they would in the US, 44% say that the government should not intervene to secure more lenient sentences or ask for their release. Only 26% say that the government should intervene.

The issue of government help for citizens in prison abroad is currently a major issue in the UK, after three British men in prison in the UAE alleged that they were tortured. Attitudes in the US and UK are very similar, with people generally believing that support for citizens in prison abroad should be limited. Left-leaning supporters of the Democratic Party (32%) or the UK's left-wing Labour Party (31%) were, however, more likely to believe that the government should intervene to improve treatment for citizens.

Complete US results are available here and complete UK results here.

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