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AN EX-SQUADDIE who risked his life fighting Isis had “extraordinary and totally unjustified” terror charges against him dropped today.
James Matthews, who volunteered to fight Isis alongside Kurdish YPG forces, had been accused of attending terrorist training camps in Iraq and Syria and was due to face trial at the Old Bailey in November.
But, seven months after Mr Matthews was charged, Tom Little QC announced yesterday that the prosecution had concluded there was no longer a realistic prospect of conviction on “evidential grounds.”
Joel Bennathan QC, representing Mr Matthews, told the court: “We have always said the decision to prosecute Mr Matthews for fighting with the YPG against Isis was extraordinary and totally unjustified.
“Mr Matthews was always open about what he had done and it is baffling that the [Crown Prosecution Service] took two years to decide to prosecute him, then seven months later they have suddenly realised there is not enough evidence to do so.
“After two-and-a-half years, we suggest Mr Matthews is entitled to a full and proper explanation of what has happened here and invite the court to direct that should be done.”
When Mr Matthews, 43, from Dalston, east London, was charged, it was believed to be the first time that terrorism legislation had been used to prosecute someone helping a group that is also assisted by the British government.
After the hearing, Mr Matthews said: “The prosecution never explained in any detail the basis for this charge and now they refuse to say why they’ve dropped it.
“People have speculated that the decision was motivated by a concern to mend fences with the Turkish state now that [Isis] are defeated and Britain no longer needs nor feels any loyalty to the Kurds.
“As long as the Crown and the Attorney General refuse to give any meaningful explanation, it is hard to dismiss such suspicions.”
Kurdistan Solidarity Campaign co-chair Mark Campbell said the government had “shamed themselves by even bringing this case against people who should be given medals for their bravery in the face of such a barbaric and evil enemy such as Isis.”
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