British former YPG volunteer flees Turkey after terror charges

Joe Robinson, 25, said he had “made the hard decision to take the matter into my own hands."
Friday 14/12/2018
British ex-soldier Joe Robinson. (Facebook)
British ex-soldier Joe Robinson. (Facebook)

LONDON - A former British soldier sentenced in Turkey for alleged links to a Kurdish militia in Syria has fled to Britain, the BBC quoted him as saying on Friday.

Joe Robinson, 25, said he had “made the hard decision to take the matter into my own hands,” according to the broadcaster.

Robinson was arrested last year while holidaying in Turkey after he posted photos of himself in camouflage next to fighters from the People’s Protection Units (YPG) in Syria.

A court in the western city of Aydin in September sentenced him to seven-and-a-half years in prison for “membership of a terrorist organisation,” the private DHA news agency said.

Robinson did not attend the trial for health reasons, DHA said. He was held in custody in Turkey for four months but was on bail pending an appeal.

He has previously said he provided medical assistance in Syria.

“In Syria I managed to help civilians, and save lives. That, I believe, is no act of terrorism,” he said.

The YPG is an ally of the United States in the fight against the Islamic State group in Syria. But Ankara is hostile to the YPG, viewing it as a “terrorist offshoot” of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party, which has been waging an insurgency in Turkey since 1984.

Robinson’s Bulgarian fiancee, arrested along with him, was also sentenced to nearly two years in jail in September for “terrorist propaganda,” but she is currently in Britain, DHA said.

According to UK press reports, Robinson served with British armed forces in Afghanistan in 2012 and went to Syria in 2015 to work in the YPG’s health unit.

(Agence France-Presse)