A former British soldier facing jail in Turkey for allegedly fighting with Kurdish forces against IS has issued a plea for help from the UK government.
Joe Robinson was arrested while on holiday in Turkey last year for allegedly fighting alongside the People’s Protection Units of Syrian Kurdistan (YPG) in Syria.
Turkey is hostile to the YPG because of its links with the Kurdistan Workers’ Party, which is fighting for Kurdish autonomy in Turkey.
Robinson, who faces more than seven years in jail, told Sky News he worked as a combat medic in Syria and “didn’t do any operations with the YPG”.
“I was only in Syria for a month,” the 25-year-old said. “I was only a combat medic. I helped treat injured civilians who’d been caught up in the fighting.
“‘The rest of the time I was with the Peshmerga who are an internationally recognised army.
“I don’t think I deserve to spend seven and a half years in prison for a crime I haven’t committed.
“All I ever wanted to do was help people.”
Robinson said he was arrested because someone had been stalking him.
He said: “A person that I didn’t know, that has never met me, that was stalking me on Facebook and following me, sent an email to the police, making up all kinds of things, telling them that I was a terrorist, and all these sorts of things.”
Robinson’s interactions with the British government have been disappointing, he said.
The Foreign Office “doesn’t seem very interested in my case”, he said, as he pleaded with the UK to “help me – do something”.
He added: “When we’ve pushed the Foreign Office, they’ve basically said they haven’t had any discussions.”
At the beginning of Robinson’s “really hard ordeal” he spent four months in solitary confinement in a “high security prison”.
“‘I was kept in solitary confinement 23 hours a day,” he said. “I was only allowed out for one hour a day to walk around in a small circle.
“I didn’t really have any human interaction – I wasn’t allowed to speak to or see my fiancee for the entire four months.
“I didn’t even get to speak to my family for the first two-and-a-half months. And then it was only a 10-minute phone call once every two weeks.”
Robinson said the case has left him “emotionally, mentally and physically drained” and that his mother has “recently had a psychotic breakdown”.
While he is being held on bail, the former British soldier cannot leave Turkey or get a visa – meaning he cannot work.
However, he hopes the diplomatic ties between Britain and Turkey can help him.
“The relationship between Turkey and the UK is the best it’s been for a long time,” he said, “and I really think they could use that influence to help me get out of this situation.
“I served my government. I served my queen and country. I don’t think I deserve to be in this situation, and I think I deserve for my country to give me the help that I need.”