ERBIL (Kurdistan 24) – The mother of a British fighter that joined Kurdish forces battling the Islamic State told Kurdistan 24 on Saturday that her son has been sentenced by Turkey to seven and a half years in jail.
Sharon Robinson, the mother of Joseph Robinson, confirmed to Kurdistan 24 that she got a phone call from the UK Foreign Office about the sentence.
The call, she said, was “asking if I had heard from him, then told me that. Then, I heard from Joe, saying that he was going to appeal.”
It was briefly reported in the Turkish media outlet Daily Sabah, which said, “A court in western Turkey handed down a seven-year sentence to Joseph Andrew Robinson for being a member of the terrorist group PKK (Kurdistan Workers' Party).”
On Twitter, Robinson told British MP Graham Jones she “will do whatever it takes to get him home.”
Later, she told Kurdistan 24, "I am under the impression that the government can ask for him to be extradited to serve his sentence here. That would be a massive relief, especially as he was found to have committed no crime by the UK law."
Detained in July 2017 while on vacation in Turkey’s Aegean province of Aydin, Robinson, a former British soldier, was accused of having engaged in "terrorist" activity for fighting with the Syrian Kurdish People's Protection Units (YPG), which Ankara sees as part of the outlawed PKK.
His Bulgarian girlfriend Mira Yashar Abdülselamoğlu was also arrested at the same time and charged with terrorist propaganda. Her mother was initially detained but then released after interrogation.
He joined Kurdish forces in 2015 while the group was battling IS in Iraq and Syria.
"I received arms training from the YPG for three months but never engaged in combat," Robinson told police at the time.
Pictures of the Robinson and Abdülselamoğlu posted 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 IS in Iraq and Syria since 2014. Scores of them, including Americans, British, Germans, and Australians have died in combat against the self-declared Islamic caliphate. Some were killed by Turkish air strikes in Syria in the Kurdish town of Afrin in 2018 and near Manbij in 2016.
Turkish authorities have previously detained several other volunteers who teamed up with the Kurdish forces.
Editing by John J. Catherine