Skip to main content

Turkey arrests British man at resort over 'Kurd militia links'

The man, identified only as Joseph A.R., was detained at the Aegean holiday resort of Didim in Aydin province
Turkish riot police officers stand guard at the entrance of the High Electoral Board in Ankara (AFP)

Turkish authorities have placed under arrest a British citizen on charges of links to a Kurdish militia Ankara deems to be a terror group, after detaining him in a raid at a holiday resort, state media said.

The man, named as Joseph A.R., was detained in the Aegean holiday resort town of Didim in Aydin province and then remanded in custody by a court ahead of trial, the state-run Anadolu news agency said late Friday.

A Bulgarian citizen was detained with him but she was later allowed by the court to go free under judicial control. Her mother was also detained but freed without charge.

Anadolu said Joseph A.R. was arrested after posting pictures on social media allegedly showing himself in camouflage gear taking part in Kurdish People's Protection Units (YPG) operations in Syria.

Ankara considers the YPG a terrorist group and the Syrian branch of the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK), which has waged an insurgency inside Turkey since 1984.

But Washington considers the YPG as the main fighting force on the ground in Syria against the Islamic State group.

The United States is now openly arming the YPG and the group is heavily involved in the US-backed operation to oust IS militants from their stronghold of Raqa.

The YPG has also attracted the services of foreigners - many with no Kurdish family origin - to fight against IS in Syria and Iraq. Several have lost their lives.

The BBC said the man is ex-soldier Joe Robinson, 24, from the northern English city of Leeds and the Bulgarian his fiance Mira Rojkan.

It said Robinson, who is originally from Lancashire, spent five months fighting as a volunteer with the YPG against IS. He had previously described his experiences in media interviews, including with the Guardian.

Anadolu said that Turkish police launched the raid to arrest him after receiving a tip-of by email.

Stay informed with MEE's newsletters

Sign up to get the latest alerts, insights and analysis, starting with Turkey Unpacked

Middle East Eye delivers independent and unrivalled coverage and analysis of the Middle East, North Africa and beyond. To learn more about republishing this content and the associated fees, please fill out this form. More about MEE can be found here.