Most Americans support putting Bradley Manning on trial for leaking classified information, but many people also think that the charges he faces are too harsh.
Bradley Manning is a soldier who, three years ago, was arrested for leaking hundreds of thousands of classified documents to the website 'Wikileaks'. His trial began in early June and he faces a number of charges, including 'aiding the enemy', which can carry the death penalty. His supporters say that he was a major catalyst in the 2010 Arab Spring who does not deserve to face significant punishment, while the government says that he broke multiple laws and put many lives in danger.
The latest YouGov research shows that most Americans broadly agree that Bradley Manning deserves to be punished, with only 9% saying that he should not be prosecuted. A significant number of people – 27% of respondents – do support prosecution, but believe that the charges he is being tried for are too harsh.
There is a notable partisan divide. Few believe that he should escape prosecution, but Democrats (38%) are more likely than Republicans (23%) to say that he is being treated too harshly. Fully 59% of Republicans believe the current charges are appropriate, compared to 29% of Democrats.
This differences in opinion on Manning's trial correlate with differences on Wikileaks itself. Democrats (31%) are more likely than Republicans (13%) to have a favorable view of Wikileaks, though even among Democrats slightly more people have an unfavorable view of Wikileaks.
Even as the trial was beginning another seismic leak went public, with former CIA IT specialist Edward Snowden telling British newspaper The Guardian of the existence of major surveillance programs. Snowden flew to Hong Kong before the leak story broke, and has so far avoided arrest or questioning by U.S. authorities.
Complete results are available here.