Washington Most Americans and a majority of people in Britain, France and South Korea say torturing terrorism suspects is justified at least in rare instances, according to AP-Ipsos polling.
The United States has drawn criticism from human-rights groups and many governments, especially in Europe, for its treatment of terror suspects. President Bush and other top officials have said the U.S. does not torture, but some suspects in American custody have alleged they were victims of severe mistreatment.
The polling, in the United States and eight of its closest allies, found that in Canada, Mexico and Germany people are divided on whether torture is ever justified. Most people opposed torture under any circumstances in Spain and Italy.
"I don't think we should go out and string everybody up by their thumbs until somebody talks. But if there is definitely a good reason to get an answer, we should do whatever it takes," said Billy Adams, a retiree from Tomball, Texas.
In America, 61 percent of those surveyed agreed torture is justified at least on rare occasions. Almost nine in 10 in South Korea and just over half in France and Britain felt that way.
Accusations of torture, reports of secret CIA prisons in Eastern Europe and claims of shadowy flights carrying terror suspects have further strained U.S. relations with some European countries.
Mariella Salvi, who works for a humanitarian organization in Rome, said: "Human beings, as well as their rights, have to be defended, no matter what individuals are suspected of, or charged for."
The polls of about 1,000 adults in each of the nine countries were conducted between Nov. 15 and Nov. 28.