A new ComRes poll of 2,000 people exclusively for CNN reveals a large proportion of British people (44%) believe that the sex charges against Mr Assange are an excuse to get him into custody so the Americans can prosecute him for releasing secret American diplomatic papers. The same proportion however believe the British Government should indeed send Mr Assange to Sweden to face questioning.
Other findings from the new poll show that British people generally do not believe Mr Assange should be prosecuted for releasing the secret diplomatic cables (by 41% to 30%), and more people agree than disagree that Wikileaks was right to release the cables (by 42% to 33%).
Also significant is the division by age. Older people are significantly more likely than younger people to feel that Mr Assange should be sent to Sweden for questioning and that he should be prosecuted for leaking the secret diplomatic cables.
ComRes interviewed 2010 GB adults online between 10th and 13th December 2010. Data were weighted to be demographically representative of all GB adults.
Julian Assange is the Australian editor-in-chief of Wikileaks, the website publishing hundreds of thousands of secret American diplomatic papers. He was arrested in London this week because Swedish authorities want to question him about allegations of sex-related crimes in Sweden, although he has not been charged with a crime and is fighting against being sent to Sweden.
Q1 Should the British Government agree to send him to Sweden for questioning or not?
No/ not: 29%
Don't know: 27%
Q2 Are the sex charges an excuse to get him in custody so the Americans can prosecute him for releasing the secret cables, or not?
No/ not: 13%
Don't know: 43%
Q3 Should Assange be prosecuted for releasing those secret diplomatic cables, or not?
No/ not: 41%
Don't know: 29%
Q4 Was Wikileaks right to release the secret cables, or not?
No/ not: 33%
Don't know: 25%