44% Brits feel sex charges against Assange a ploy
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Last Updated: Tuesday, December 14, 2010, 18:28
  
London: Almost half of Britons believe that the sex charges against WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange are an "excuse" to keep him in custody so that the US can prosecute him for leaking secret diplomatic cables, a new poll shows.

Assange, 39, the Australian founder of WikiLeaks, is fighting extradition to Sweden, where he is wanted for questioning about allegations of sexual assault.

The CNN poll of British opinion, released yesterday, ahead of Assange's bail hearing here, finds that 44 percent of respondents in Great Britain believe that Sweden's sex charges are just a pretext, while only 13 percent flatly disagree. The remaining 43 percent say they don't know.

Forty-one per cent of British people responding to the poll said that Assange should not be prosecuted for leaking the secret US cables while 30 per cent said he should be punished. The remaining 29 per cent not having made up their mind, the poll said.

More people agree than disagree that Wikileaks was right to release the cables, by 42 percent to 33 percent. The remainder, 25 percent, don't have a position.

Despite the prevailing opinion that the sex charges are a ploy, almost half of Britons, or 44 percent, say their government should send Assange to Sweden anyway for questioning. Twenty-nine percent disagree, and the rest say they don't know.

Age was a significant division in the results of the poll for which 2,010 British adults were interviewed, CNN said.

Older people were significantly more likely to feel that Assange should be sent to Sweden for questioning and that he should be prosecuted for leaking the secret diplomatic cables.

For example, 42 percent of persons 65 and older say Assange should be prosecuted for releasing the secret diplomatic cables, a view held by only 21 percent of those between 25 and 34.

Assange, who voluntarily turned himself in to London authorities last week after a Swedish arrest warrant was issued, has denied any wrongdoing. His supporters have called the charges an attempt to strike back at Assange and his WikiLeaks group, which so far has released more than 1,300 of what it says will be more than 250,000 US diplomatic documents dating back 1966.

US President Barack Obama has slammed WikiLeaks for releasing the classified US government documents and has termed the act of whistle-blower website as "deplorable".

PTI


First Published: Tuesday, December 14, 2010, 18:28


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