Espanol / English

Middle East Near You

Ex-British soldier who fought Daesh has charges dropped

Former British soldier James Mattews - Dominic Lipinski/PA

A former British soldier who fought for Daesh has terror charges dropped by the UK over lack of evidence, according to the Guardian.

Forty-three-year-old James Matthews pleaded not guilty to the charge of receiving instruction or training by the Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) in Syria and Iraq for the purposes of “terrorism” on or before 15 February 2016.

The UK government’s prosecutor, Tom Little QC, told the Old Bailey that the prosecution has made a decision that there were no evidential grounds for accusing Matthews.

In reply, Joel Bennathan QC, Matthew’s defence lawyer said: “We have always said the decision to prosecute Mr Matthews for fighting with the YPG against Isis [Daesh] was extraordinary and totally unjustified.”

“Mr Matthews is happy this has now come to an end .. [he] was always open about what he had done and it is baffling that the CPS [Crown Prosecution Service] took two years to decide to prosecute him, then seven months later they have suddenly realised there is not enough evidence to do so.”

“After two-and-a-half years, we suggest Mr Matthews is entitled to a full and proper explanation of what has happened here and invite the court to direct that should be done,” Bennathan continued.

‘Joining Kurds is lawful’

Matthew’s lawyers from Barenberg Pierce argued that joining the Kurdish YPG organisation was “entirely lawful”. Adding to this, the lawyers claimed there never was a case to be made against Matthews either “factually, morally or legally”.

But the dropped charges may have come about over political calculations over the Kurdish YPG organisation, Matthews’ lawyers argued. The YPG are a “necessary ally of the UK”, but by the time of the charge, it wasn’t any longer.

The YPG by then was victorious over Daesh, and Turkey was a major opposition force against them and the Kurdish independent movement – an important British arms sales opportunity, amid pending-Brexit economic conditions at home. The UK’s geopolitical and business interests were blurred with Matthews’ prosecution, the defence lawyers argued.

Since 2014, the UK, France, US and others have given the YPG military and financial support. The YPG went on to drive Daesh out of major cities such as Kobani and Raqqa in Syria.

Some seven British nationals have reportedly been killed while fighting for the YPG, according to the Guardian.

Read More: UN calls on Saudi Arabia to release detained activists

Categories
Europe & RussiaMiddle EastNewsSyriaUK
Register your free ticket to the MEMO Conference - Oslo at 25 - Middle East Peace