Turkey jails British ex-soldier who fought IS with Kurdish militia

Turkey jails British ex-soldier who fought IS with Kurdish militia
Turkey has sentenced a British man to seven-and-a-half years imprisonment after he was arrested on holiday in 2017, over links to the Kurdish YPG militia.
2 min read
15 September, 2018
Robinson, an army medic, fought with the YPG in 2015 [Twitter]
A Turkish court has sentenced a former British soldier to seven-and-a-half years in jail for alleged links to a Kurdish militia that Ankara considers a "terrorist" group.

Joe Robinson, 25, was arrested in July 2017 while holidaying in Turkey after he posted photos of himself in camouflage and posing next to fighters from the People's Protection Units (YPG) in Syria. 

A court in the western city of Aydin sentenced him for "membership of a terrorist organisation," the private DHA news agency said.

According to the British press, Robinson, from Leeds, fought alongside the YPG against the Islamic State group in Syria for five months in 2015.

Pictures were published of Robinson wearing the YPG military uniform, and posing with fellow combatants alongside a captured IS flag.

The YPG is an ally of the United States in the fight against the Islamic State in Syria. Ankara however is hostile to the YPG because of its links with the Kurdistan Workers' Party, which has been waging a long and bloody insurgency in southern Turkey.

Robinson was reportedly unaware of the Turkish stance towards the YPG when he travelled there on holiday in 2017.

The former soldier did not attend the trial for health reasons, DHA said. He is currently on bail and planning an appeal.

His Bulgarian fiancee, arrested along with him, was also sentenced to nearly two years in jail for "terrorist propaganda," but she is currently in Britain, DHA said.

According to British reports, the 25-year-old is an army medic who served in Afghanistan in 2012 and travelled to Syria in 2015 to work in the YPG's health unit.

He was reportedly arrested by British authorities upon his return to the UK in November 2015 but terrorism charges against him were dropped 10 months later.

British left-wing groups, including members of the Labour Party, have previously expressed their support for the Kurds in Syria and their autonomy after defeating IS.

Labour and Coop MP Lloyd Russell-Moyle tweeted on Saturday in support of Robinson, saying: "Joe Robinson should be getting a medal for fighting ISIS and supporting our allies the Kurds instead out other 'ally' Turkey convicts him for sharing a post about what the Kurds are doing to defeat ISIS."

A spokesman for the British Foreign Office said: "We stand ready to provide consular assistance to a British national in Turkey."