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American Believe Daniloff Arrest Should Not Threaten U.S.-Soviet Summit

September 20, 1986

LOS ANGELES (AP) _ Most Americans believe Soviet prosecution of American reporter Nicholas Daniloff does not warrant cancellation of a summit meeting between President Reagan and Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev, a survey found.

Americans also are uncertain whether Daniloff, a Moscow correspondent for U.S. News & World Report, engaged in espionage as charged, according to a Times Mirror survey published in Saturday’s editions of the Los Angeles Times.

But a solid majority said that Daniloff was seized so Moscow could trade for accused Russian spy Gennady F. Zakharov, who was arrested by the FBI in New York last month.

The poll of 776 telephone interviews with adults nationwide from Sept. 13-17, conducted by the Gallup Organization, was commissioned by the Times Mirror Co., parent company of the Los Angeles Times. The findings contain a 4 percent margin of error.

When asked: ″Do you feel that the Reagan Administration should refuse to attend a summit as long as Daniloff is held, or do you think the sumit is too important to cancel over this matter?,″ 71 percent replied that Reagan should go ahead, 20 percent said he should cancel and 9 percent said they were undecided.

Fifty-one percent said they do not believe the Daniloff case will seriously harm U.S.-Soviet relations.

Reagan and other U.S. officials have said they intend to follow through with plans for the summit meeting before the end of the year. But they’ve also warned that those plans could be threatened if Daniloff is not cleared of spying charges.

The administration has rejected pleas by several members of Congress to call off all summit preparations unless Daniloff is freed.

When asked whether it was possible that Daniloff was involved in espionage against the Soviet Union, 24 percent said there was no chance whatever, 34 percent said a small chance, 22 percent a moderate chance and 10 percent a good chance.

Sixty-five percent said they believed Soviet authorities seized Daniloff to trade him for Zakharov, while 14 percent said they think the Soviets believe Daniloff is a spy.

Most Americans believe Daniloff’s arrest will not deter U.S. reporters in Moscow, but they said American journalists there face risks if they cross Soviet authorities.

Fifty-two percent said the Daniloff case will not affect the behavior of Western correspondents. But 63 percent said an American reporter could not do a good job in Moscow without seriously risking getting into trouble with Soviet authorities.

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