James Matthews speaks with supporters outside Westminster Magistrates’ Court in London on Wednesday. Photo: Daniel Leal-Olivas/AFP
ERBIL, Kurdistan Region – British national James Matthews was formally charged in a London court on Wednesday with terror training after he volunteered with the Kurdish YPG in the war against ISIS.
He appeared a London courtroom on the charge of “attending a place or places in Iraq and Syria where instruction or training was provided for purposes connected to the commission or preparation of terrorism,” the police stated.
He is accused of attending a training camp “as part of a group of people struggling to assist the Kurdish groups fighting against ISIS,” his counsel, Joel Bennathan, told the court, BBC reported.
Matthews entered a plea of not guilty.
He was granted bail and will next appear in court on March 1.
Supporters gathered outside the courthouse.
"I am here to support James because I think it is really inspirational when people put their life on the line to fight for this common struggle, which is really an international struggle,” supporter Red Rosa told AFP.
This is believed to be the first case of a terror charge for a British volunteer who fought against ISIS.
The YPG are an ally of the global coalition fighting ISIS in northern Syria. Hundreds of volunteers from around the world have joined the force.
The British government has repeatedly warned volunteers that they could face legal consequences.