MOSCOW, April 16. /TASS/. Nearly half of those questioned by the VTsIOM pollster believe that by publishing secret documents Julian Assange promotes the freedom of speech and mass media, while a little more than a quarter (27%) described his activity as illegal.
"In the eyes of 45% of Russians Assange by publishing secret documents promotes the freedom of speech and mass media (53% in the group of 45-59-year-olds). Moreover, 40% of the polled believe that Assange acted in the interests of the world public (48% in the group of 60 years of age and older). Also, 57% of Russians believe that Assange rather sought to bring to the world public’s attention the cases of corruption, crimes and scandals in different countries," the pollster said.
More than a quarter (27%) believe that by doing so Assange violated the law, while 17% remarked that in this way he rather sought to avenge his enemies and attract attention. Some of the polled believe that the founder of the WikiLeaks portal pursued selfish interests (17%) or acted in the interests of individual states and politicians (16%).
Sociologists noted the relatively low rate of Russians’ knowledge about Assange. As many as 45% said they had never heard his name before, 27% were familiar with his activity and another 12% knew about his arrest.
The VTsIOM-Sputnik national opinion poll was conducted on April 13, 2018. An audience of 1,600 men and women of age were questioned. The maximum margin of error was no higher than 2.5% with a 95% probability.
Assange in 2006 founded the portal WikiLeaks to publish classified information about the activity of a number of governments, including that of the United States. After Sweden brought harassment charges against him in 2012 Assange asked for asylum inside Ecuador’s embassy in London, where he has spent nearly seven years. On April 11 Ecuador terminated his political asylum and allowed Assange to be arrested by the British police for failure to shop up in a London court under the 2012 warrant and US extradition request of 2017.
His lawyers suspect that if extradited to the United States, Assange may face a 35-year prison term or capital punishment. The US Department of Justice has said, though, that Assange may get a five-year prison term at the most for computer hacking.