Turkish court releases former UK soldier on bail in Kurds’ YPG trial

Joseph Robinson (right) with other foreign fighters in Tal Abyad, Syria. Photograph: Facebook

A Turkish court on Saturday decided to release on bail a British national who in 2015 joined Syrian Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) battling the terror group Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) in Syria and Iraq, reported by Kurdistan24 online news outlet.

Detained in July 2017 while on holiday in Turkey’s Aegean province of Aydın, the man identified as Joseph Robinson, a former British soldier, is accused of having engaged in “terrorist” activity for fighting with YPG. Arrested along him was a Bulgarian ethnic Turk woman named Mira Y. A. and her mother Veselina P. R. A. whom the authorities released after an interrogation.

“I received arms training from the YPG  for three months but never engaged in combat,” Robinson initially told the police. He faces a jail sentence of up to ten years if found guilty. His Bulgarian fiancee is also charged with terrorist propaganda in the same case. Pictures of the detainee and those of Mira on their social media accounts showing them in Kurdish military clothes were used as evidence for “membership in a terror group.”

Hundreds of Westerners and other foreigners have joined Kurdish Peshmerga and YPG forces battling the ISIL in Iraq and Syria since 2014. Scores of them, including Americans, British, Germans, and Australians have died in combat against the ISIL. Turkish authorities have previously detained several other volunteers who teamed up with the Kurds.

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