Ex-paratrooper who fought Isil claims Turkey put pressure on Britain to charge him with terror offences

Daniel Burke was accused of terrorism offences after volunteering to help the Kurdish YPG fight against Isil in Syria.

A former British paratrooper who volunteered to help the Kurds in Syria was charged with terror offences after Turkey applied diplomatic pressure on Britain and threatened trade links, his lawyers have claimed.

Daniel Burke, 33, spent seven months on remand, much of it in solitary confinement, after volunteering to help the Kurdish People’s Protection Units or YPG in its fight against Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (Isil).

After returning to Britain he was charged with three terror offences and faced possible life imprisonment, despite the fact the YPG is an ally of the West and has never been proscribed by the Home Office as a terrorist organisation.

Last week the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) abruptly withdrew the charges after his defence team applied to obtain more details about the decision to charge Mr Burke.

Prosecutors have refused to disclose the material and Mr Burke’s lawyers have now accused them of bringing charges in order to appease the Turkish government, which has been lobbying to have the YPG declared as terrorists.

Pippa Woodrow from Doughty Street Chambers, who represented Mr Burke said: “The YPG is not a proscribed organisation but an ally of the UK in the fight against Isil.

“It is funded, armed and trained by the US which is a major partner in the International Coalition Against Isil.

“Daniel Burke, an ex-Parachute Regiment soldier, volunteered to join that effort as a result of his horror at the Manchester Bombings in his home city, and spent eight months risking his life.

“Rather than being treated as a hero for his fight against terrorists, he has been treated as a terrorist himself.”

Mr Burke has claimed that when he was fighting in Syria, he even provided the British police and security services with information about Isil.

There has not been a single successful terrorist prosecution of a case involving a YPG volunteer in Britain and critics have said the CPS should stop using terror legislation in such cases.

Ms Woodrow went on: “He is left utterly bewildered by the attitude of the British prosecuting authorities, and by the decision of the Attorney-General to permit this prosecution to go ahead.

“He views the abrupt decision to drop the charges against him is directly linked to his application for disclosure of information relating to diplomatic pressure placed on the UK Government by Turkey to treat the Kurdish YPG as ‘terrorists’, coupled with their threats about future trade links, and the unwillingness of the authorities to risk the embarrassment of disclosing the part such factors may have played in these proceedings.”

Mr Burke has said his life is now in ruins and he is considering bringing legal action against the CPS over his treatment.

He was accused of having helped his friend Daniel Newey, 27, travel to the Middle East to join the Kurdish resistance.

Mr Newey’s father, Paul, 49, and brother Sam, 19, were also charged funding terrorism by sending him money, and all three were due to stand trial at Birmingham Crown Court before the charges were dropped.

Mr Newey senior described the prosecution case as “laughable”.

He said: “There was no crime committed because it’s not terrorism – because my son (Daniel Newey) is not a terrorist. “He was there (in Syria) fighting with the allied forces against Isis. “He was doing the right thing – he has gone to put his life at risk for other people for no gain to himself.”

A CPS spokesperson said: “The CPS’s function is not to decide whether a person is guilty but to make fair and independent decisions.

“These are made on a case by case basis in line with our legal test. Cases are then kept under continuous review.

“As part of that responsibility, we have concluded our legal test for a prosecution is no longer met.

“We have therefore offered no evidence in the case against Paul and Samuel Newey and Daniel Burke.”

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