Joe Robinson: Turkish court convicts former UK soldier

By Emma Vardy
BBC News

Image source, Depo Photos
Image caption,
Joe Robinson was on holiday in Turkey when he was arrested by police

A former soldier with the British army who fought for Kurdish forces against so-called Islamic State (IS) in Syria has been given a prison sentence in Turkey, his mother says.

Joe Robinson, 25, from Leeds, was arrested while on holiday in 2017 and charged with terrorism offences.

He was accused of being a member of the Kurdish armed group the YPG, which Turkey views as a terrorist group.

Robinson was given a seven-and-a-half year sentence but remains on bail.

He is planning an appeal against his conviction.

His mother Sharon Chimejczuk said she had received a phone call on Friday night from an official at the British Foreign Office confirming his sentence.

'So sad and ridiculous'

She said her son's fiancée, Mira Rojkan, a law student at the University of Leeds, had been given a suspended sentence for "terrorism propaganda".

"There was a trial, but Joe wasn't at it," Mrs Chimejczuk said.

Ms Rojkan said: "The court sentenced me for sharing Facebook posts with the Kurdish flag and links to Kurdish songs on YouTube.

"The situation is just so sad and ridiculous.

"It's beyond me how this can be happening."

Image source, Joe Robinson
Image caption,
Robinson spent five months fighting with Kurdish forces against IS in Syria

Speaking to the BBC News Channel, Ms Rojkan, a Bulgarian national, said: "Unfortunately for Joe, there was very little help from the Foreign Office.

"They are interested in the case and are following it, but didn't send any representatives and didn't help nearly as much as the Bulgarian foreign ministry."

Robinson, who is originally from Lancashire and previously served with British forces in Afghanistan, spent four months in a Turkish jail after his arrest last year. He was released on bail in November but has been prevented from leaving the country.

He spent five months as a volunteer with Kurdish forces who were fighting against IS, and had previously spoken about his experiences in media reports.

His family say he was a military medic.

The YPG is regarded as a terrorist organisation by Turkey but is not a banned group in the UK.

A Foreign Office spokesperson said: "We have been following this case very closely and have raised it with the Turkish authorities. We stand ready to provide further consular assistance."

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