A former British soldier who was convicted in Turkey of membership in a terrorist organization has skipped bail and returned to the UK, according to the BBC.
Joe Robinson, 25, was facing a seven-and-a half-year jail term.
In 2015 he spent time with Kurdish armed groups in Syria, including the People’s Protection Units (YPG), which Turkey regards as a terrorist group.
Robinson was on bail pending an appeal of his conviction.
He told the BBC he believed the Turkish authorities had “no legitimate reason” to convict him of terrorist offenses and that 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.
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.
Robinson, who is originally from Accrington in Lancashire, previously served with British forces in Afghanistan.
His fiancée, Mira Rojkan, 23, was arrested along with 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.”