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Courts Former soldier who fought Isis appears in court on terrorism charges

A BRITISH man who fought Isis as a member of a Kurdish militia appeared in court yesterday charged with attending a terrorist training camp.

Former soldier James Matthews, 43, was greeted by supporters outside Westminster magistrates’ court as he arrived to face a single charge of attending a place used for terrorist training, an offence under the Terrorism Act 2006.

It is alleged that, on or before February 15 2016, Mr Matthews attended a place or places in Iraq and Syria where instruction or training was provided for purposes connected to the commission or preparation of terrorism.

Represented by Joel Bennathan QC, Mr Matthews, wearing black jeans and a brown leather jacket, spoke only to confirm his identity.

Mr Matthews, who served with the British army in Bosnia in the 1990s, is believed to have joined the Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) in 2015 and served three tours with the group.

In March 2017, a “Jim Matthews” was a signatory to an “open letter from British YPG fighters on London attacks” posted on a Kurdish news website.

The letter urged people not to give in to extremism of any kind following the terrorist atrocities in Westminster, near London Bridge and in Manchester.

Mr Matthews also featured in a 2015 Channel 4 documentary entitled The Brits Battling Isis, which followed three British-born men fighting the terrorist movement.

The defendant, of Dalston, east London, indicated a not guilty plea to the charge and will next appear at the Old Bailey on March 1.

It is believed this is the first time that terrorism legislation has been used to prosecute someone who is assisting a group who are also being assisted by the British government.

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