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British man falsely accused of terrorism ejected from Turkey due to mistaken identity

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A British man was ejected from Turkey on accusations of terrorism because a man with the same name as him had fought alongside Kurdish militia against the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) in Syria, Mail Online reported on Saturday.

Daniel Burke, a 36-year-old father of three from Durham, was mistaken for another man with the same name who previously served in the British Army and faced allegations of terrorism because of his time in Syria.

During a family vacation in Turkey, Burke, his partner and their three children were escorted by armed military police for interrogation at Dalaman Airport in southwestern Turkey due to supposed “links to Syria.” The alarming experience left Burke’s children frightened and in tears.

Turkish authorities confused him with another Daniel Burke, also 36, from Manchester. The latter Burke had fought against ISIL in Syria as part of the Syrian Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG), following the Manchester Arena bombing in 2017.

Upon return to the UK, Burke’s service in Syria was investigated by counterterrorism officers, but no further action was taken. However, in December 2019 he was re-arrested in Dover, Kent, by West Midlands Police. Burke was detained in the UK for eight months on suspicion of “preparing acts of terrorism.” The case against him was eventually dropped in December 2020.

The ordeal for Daniel Burke from Durham began when he and his family arrived at the southern coastal Turkish city of Fethiye from Newcastle for their holiday. The officers questioning him were reportedly “very heavy-handed,” leading to distress among his family. The Turkish authorities stamped “cancel” on his passport, forcing Burke and his family to return to England.

In a statement to The Mirror, Burke lamented the situation and expressed concern that others with the same name might face similar situations. He further noted that while he and the other Burke are the same age, they don’t look alike nor do they share a birthday.

Turkey considers the YPG to be an extension of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), which is listed as a terrorist organization by Turkey and much of the international community.

Turkey has carried out three cross-border operations in Syria against ISIL as well as US-backed Kurdish militias and has frequently used factions of armed Syrian fighters in addition to its own forces.

In 2021 US President Joe Biden accused Turkey of weakening the fight against ISIL and undermining stability through its military actions in northern Syria.

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