By Mark Campbell
All charges against Jim Matthews in relation to his time spent fighting against ISIS alongside the Kurdish led resistance in Northern Syria have been abandoned by the UK govt after they attempted to criminalise solidarity shown to the Kurds heroic fight against Daesh. UK volunteers who have fought against ISIS have been systematically harassed by the govt's security forces including house raids, confiscation of technology such as mobile phones and laptops and in the case of Jim Matthews charges brought under the label of 'terrorism' even though the UK govt are supposed to be part of the 'coalition against ISIS' with the Kurds.
Jim Matthews spoke to Kurdistan Soldiarity Campaign after the court hearing this morning.
"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 Daesh 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.
I have tried to minimise media attention to myself and this absurd affair. The real fight is still being fought in Afrin and other areas now plagued by Turkish-backed mercenaries, many of whom are former Daesh members.' Jim said.
The Kurdish people have led the armed resistance to the so called Islamic State. Many volunteers have travelled from all over the world to the North of Syria to stand by the Kurds much like the International Brigades that went to Spain in 1936 to help in the fight against fascism. The UK govt have tried and failed to criminalise these brave volunteers on behalf of the Turkish state and to secure ever bigger arms sales to the Turkish regime. The UK govt had picked out Jim Matthews in an attempt to criminalise this heroic solidarity shown to the Kurdish people's brave stand against Daesh in Syria.
The Kurds are building a better world in the Middle East as they continue to fight against the last remnants of ISIS. The UK govt have shown by bringing this case in the first place that they are shamefully more on the side of the Turkish regime who supported ISIS than the Kurdish people's heroic struggle to defeat ISIS.
This should shame every single UK citizen and make us more determined than ever to actively struggle to end the reign of this govt and to help to bring a Labour govt with an ethical foreign policy to halt all arms sales to Turkey and to show greater solidarity with the Kurdish people's legitimate and progressive struggle to build a better world in the Middle East.
Birnberg Peirce Solicitors, represenitng Mr Matthews, released a statement today questioning whether arms sales to the Turkish government may have had an impact on the Attorney General’s decision to prosecute Matthews.
The statement claims there was never a ‘credible case’ to be made against Matthews for fighting against ISIS in the middle-east alongside an organisation which was, at the time, a ‘politically necessary’ ally of the British government.
The full statement reads: ‘Jim Matthews was arrested two years and five months ago, after returning from assisting the Kurdish population of Rojava and western coalition forces against the onslaught of ISIS.
‘He was accused of attending a terrorist training camp organised by the YPG, an entirely lawful Kurdish organisation.
‘After two years the Crown Prosecution Service decided there was sufficient evidence to prosecute him and that it was in the public interest to do so.
‘Seven months later, they now say they have discovered new evidence that has led them to drop the case.
‘They have refused to explain what that new evidence is and why it has taken three years to find.
‘The High Court Judge hearing the case has indicated that it is now a matter for the Attorney General to explain to Parliament.
‘We urge him to do so as a matter of urgency.
‘There was never a credible case of terrorism to be made against Mr Matthews, either factually, morally or legally.
‘When Jim was arrested the YPG was a politically necessary ally of the UK.
‘By the time of charge it was not.
‘The political calculations had changed as the YPG had by then all but defeated ISIS.
‘Turkey, an avowed opponent of the YPG and any signs of a Kurdish independence movement, is an important market for British arms sales, perhaps ever more important in the current political climate.
‘Was this the reason why the Attorney General decided that an otherwise implausible prosecution be brought?
‘After the stress and anxiety of two years waiting followed by seven months on bail and numerous court appearances, Jim Matthews is entitled to an answer.’