Sydney Morning Herald chief political correspondent
August 9, 2012 – 9:21AM
A majority of Australians believe the WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange would not receive a fair trial should he ever be extradited to the United States.
The nationwide poll, conducted by UMR Research, also finds more than half do not believe he should be prosecuted for releasing thousands of leaked diplomatic cables.
Meanwhile, public opinion is split over whether the Gillard government is doing enough to help the Australian national.
After unsuccessfully challenging moves to extradite him to Sweden, where he is wanted for questioning over alleged sexual offences, Mr Assange remains holed up inside the Ecuadorian embassy in London.
He is seeking asylum in Ecuador but if unsuccessful could find himself sent to Sweden. Officially, the US government says it has no plans to then extradite him to the US – but a grand jury has been convened to probe the release by WikiLeaks of about 250,000 allegedly stolen diplomatic cables, raising suspicions to the contrary.
UMR Research, the company Labor uses for its internal research, sampled the views of 1000 people at the end of July, when Mr Assange was ensconced inside the embassy.
It finds 58 per cent believe he will not receive a fair trial in the US while 22 per cent believe he will be afforded proper justice. Another 20 per cent are unsure.
The poll also finds 52 per cent believe Mr Assange should not be prosecuted for releasing the leaked cables, while only 26 per cent believe he should be prosecuted. Another 21 per cent are unsure.
The poll finds opinion is evenly split over assistance given to Mr Assange so far by the Australian government. It finds 38 per cent believe the government should do more, 36 per cent believe it is doing enough and 25 per cent are unsure.
Mr Assange is not a particularly popular person in Australia either, with 40 per cent having a favourable view of him, 30 per cent having a negative view and 30 per cent unsure.
The managing director of UMR, John Utting, said if Mr Assange was extradited, his popularity would most likely increase “due to an underdog effect, more prominent in Australia than other countries”.
“The lack of confidence in the ability of the US judicial system to deliver a fair result has resonated with the Australian public and its sense of fair play,” he said.
In May, a UMR poll showed Mr Assange stood a good chance of securing a seat in the Australian Senate, a career path he has mooted.
Read more: http://www.theage.com.au/opinion/political-news/most-australians-back-assange-poll-finds-20120808-23uwh.html#ixzz2308gKJj6