Father of British YPG recruit who fought IS charged with terror offences

Father of British YPG recruit who fought IS charged with terror offences
A British man has become the first person in the UK to be arrested on terror charges related to a relative who joined Syrian Kurdish forces.
3 min read
27 December, 2019
Dozens of UK citizens have travelled to Syria to fight alongside the YPG [Getty]
The father of a British citizen who travelled to Syria to fight alongside Kurdish rebels has been charged with terror offences.

The arrest is the first of its kind for Britain, which has seen dozens of its citizens travel to the Middle East to support Kurdish rebels against the Islamic State group.

Police searched the home of 49-year-old Paul Newey on December 11, seizing laptops and mobile phones.

Newey, whose son Dan, 27, had joined the YPG in northeastern Syria, was taken into custody and questioned about his son's activities. Police also reportedly threatened Newey's 18-year-old son Sam with arrest.

Dan Newey had originally joined the YPG in their fight against the Islamic State group in 2017, however he returned to Syria in October when Turkey launched its cross-border offensive against Syrian Kurish militants.

"Material support" for terrorism is a charge commonly used by British authorities to prosecute family members and associates of IS fighters. Paul Newey was held for four days and charged with supporting terrorism and material support for terrorism. 

Funding terrorism carries a maximum sentence of 14 years in the UK.

Police also interviewed Newey's mother, Viki, who was interviewed for close to 12 hours before being released.

Speaking on the case, Dan Newey has expressed concern that his father's unprecedented arrest could lead to that of others linked to YPG volunteers.

"On the one hand Britain supports the YPG militarily as part of the international coalition and on the other hand it is actively persecuting people that have anything to do with it. I have no idea why [the police] have arrested my father and questioned my brother or mother. My actions are mine alone. Because they can't get to me, they are targeting my family," Newey was quoted by The Guardian as saying.

"If I'm lucky enough to survive whatever happens here, then I will go home and I will take whatever 'punishment' they give me."

Although the UK has not outlawed the YPG, several UK nationals who fought alongside the group in Syria have been arrested and charged over alleged connections to the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) - a group which is considered a terrorist organisation by the UK, US, Turkey and others.

Since helping defeat the IS group in March, the situation of Syria's Kurdish rebels has become increasingly precarious.

The Kurds accused Washington, a key backer of the YPG against IS, of having abandoned their cause once Turkey launched its cross-border offensive in October.

The Turkish invasion against Kurdish-controlled areas saw Ankara's fighters seize a strip of land roughly 120 kilometres long and 30 kilometres deep on the Syrian side of the border.

The operation launched on October 9 displaced tens of thousands and left dozens of civilians dead, and forced Kurdish forces to retreat from some key towns.

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