53% of Americans say Julian Assange should be extradited to America

Linley SandersData Journalist
Victoria WalderseeData Journalist
April 11, 2019, 4:30 PM GMT+0

44% of Americans say they have an unfavorable opinion of Wikileaks

Julian Assange, the leader of the whistleblowing website Wikileaks, was arrested on April 11 after spending seven years hiding from police and courts in the Ecuadorian embassy in London.

Assange had been living in a small room at the embassy after the British courts ruled that he should be extradited to Sweden, where he faced sexual assault charges that have since been dropped. Ecuador brought the saga to an end by removing his asylum status and allowing police officers to enter the embassy and arrest him.

The US Justice Department issued a warrant and a provisional extradition request for Assange after his arrest, alleging that he conspired to break the password of a classified Department of Defense computer and publish secret government files in 2010. Assange allegedly worked closely with Chelsea Manning, a whistleblower in the US Army who provided access to military files. The pair led one of the largest compromises of classified documents in US history, publishing secret military reports about the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, as well as America's relationship with allies.

A new YouGov poll of 2,455 Americans shows that a majority (53%) say Assange should be extradited to America. That majority increases among both Republicans (59% supporting extradition) and Democrats (62% supporting extradition), but decreases to a plurality (46%) among Independents. Independents were more likely to respond with uncertainty (32% saying they don't know) than Republicans and Democrats, and a little more than one in five Independents (22%) are opposed to extradition.

A 2018 YouGov / Economist poll showed that almost three in ten (29%) Americans support Assange's prosecution and a little fewer than one in five (19%) oppose it. The same poll indicates that most Americans do not carry strong opinions about Assange's future -- another 29% said they "don't know" whether he should be prosecuted, while a quarter (25%) were neutral on the question.

A YouGov poll in the UK shows that a third of Britons (36%) support the Ecuadorian government’s decision. One in seven (14%) think he should have been allowed to stay.

But despite seven years of news coverage half (50%) of Britons say they aren’t familiar with the issue.

Opinions towards Assange are less favorable than ever

A 2018 Economist/YouGov Poll showed that 20% of Americans have a positive opinion of Assange, while 38% hold an unfavorable view.

Similarly, 29% of Americans say they have a positive view of Wikileaks itself, while 44% have a negative view.

In the same 2018 poll, nearly one-third of Americans (32%) say they believe that those who leak information to Wikileaks should be prosecuted. One in five (21%) would be opposed to prosecuting those individuals, while 25% say they don't know.

Image: Getty

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