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  1. ITV Report

Soldier Joe Robinson jailed in Turkey for fighting Islamic State 'begs' for UK government help

A former soldier says he is "begging" the UK government to help him after he was jailed in Turkey for fighting the so-called Islamic State.

Joe Robinson, 25, told ITV News he was "mentally, physically and emotionally drained" after being handed a seven-and-a-half year sentence on Friday by Turkish authorities.

Mr Robinson, who trained with the British army, was arrested in July 2017 for allegedly fighting alongside the People’s Protection Units of Syrian Kurdistan (YPG), which Turkey considers a terrorist organisation, in July 2015.

The YPG is not banned in the UK and Mr Robinson, from Accrington, Lancashire, said he only spent a month with them in Syria while providing medical support to civilians.

It was in the following three months in Iraq that he fought IS with the Peshmerga, the Iraqi Kurdish military, Mr Robinson insists.

Now he and his Bulgarian fiancee, Mira Rojkan, have called on Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt to intervene.

Mr Robinson was arrested in July 2017.

Mr Robinson is currently on bail after beginning an appeal process against the seven-and-a-half year sentence.

But the 25-year-old says he is concerned that this could take anywhere between three months and three years.

He told ITV News that being kept in solitary confinement for the the first three months of his arrest had affected his mental health.

"This has been going on for 14 months now. For the first four months I was locked in a high-security prison in solitary confinement for 23 hours a day," he said.

"I didn't see sunlight for three months and I wasn't allowed to see or speak to my fiance for four months."

Mr Robinson continued: "It's gotten to the point now where I'm mentally, physically and emotionally drained.

"I'm at the point where I am literally begging the British government to do something."

Mira Rojkan was arrested alongside Joe Robinson while they were on a family holiday last year. Credit: PA

Mr Robinson insists he went to Syria with good intentions to "help" innocent people.

He was arrested whilst on holiday with his fiance.

"I haven't committed any crime. I was 22 years old when I went to Syria... all I ever wanted to do was help people, help innocent people," he told ITV News.

"I don't believe that I deserve to spend seven-and-a-half years in prison for doing what I thought was the right thing."

The YPG is considered by Turkey as a terror organisation because of its links to the Kurdistan Workers' Party which is fighting for autonomy for the region.

Robinson was unaware of their ideology when he spent a month with them, according to his fiancee.

Mr Robinson has called on the UK government to step up efforts to help him, saying he "hadn't really seen any intervention from them".

The Foreign Office told ITV News it had raised the issue with Turkish authorities.