Leeds & West Yorkshire

Joe Robinson: Ex-soldier skips bail in Turkey after terror conviction

Joe Robinson Image copyright Depo Photos
Image caption Joe Robinson was arrested while on holiday in Turkey last year

A former British soldier who was convicted in Turkey of being a member of a terrorist organisation has skipped bail and returned to the UK, the BBC understands.

Joe Robinson, from Leeds, was facing a seven-and-a half-year jail term.

In 2015, he spent time with Kurdish armed groups in Syria, including the YPG, which Turkey regards as a terrorist group.

Robinson, 25, was on bail pending an appeal against his conviction.

He told the BBC he believed the Turkish authorities had "no legitimate reason" to convict him of terror offences, and he wanted to be left alone to spend time with friends and family in the UK.

Robinson, who left the country without permission from the Turkish courts, said he had "made the hard decision to take the matter into my own hands".

Turkish police arrested Robinson while he was on holiday in 2017.

He said he had "suffered" in Turkey for nearly a year and a half, including spending four months in prison.

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

The Kurdish YPG is not proscribed in the UK, and other British volunteers have travelled to Syria to join them against the advice of authorities.

Image copyright Joe Robinson
Image caption Joe Robinson said he travelled to Syria to help civilians

Robinson, who claimed he had travelled to the war zone to volunteer as a military medic, said he had received "very little" support from the British authorities.

The Foreign Office has not commented on his return to the UK.

Robinson, who is originally from Accrington in Lancashire, previously served with British forces in Afghanistan.

His fiancée Mira Rojkan, 23, was arrested alongside Robinson while they were on holiday in the Turkish resort of Didim last year.

The Bulgarian national was given a suspended sentence for "terrorism propaganda".

The BBC has contacted the Turkish authorities for a response.

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