Britain’s government on Thursday told its citizens in Turkey, or those travelling there, that groups which may be legal in the U.K. were still outlawed by Ankara.
In a travel update issued by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO), Britons were also advised to fully cooperate with Turkish officials.
The note identified a number of groups which are not illegal in the U.K. — such as the Fetullah Terrorist Organization (FETO) — but which are banned in Turkey.
“Some organizations in the region though not proscribed in the U.K., such as YPG, Gulen/FETO, are illegal in Turkey,” the update stated.
“It is illegal to be a member or supporter of a terrorist organization in Turkey,” the FCO added.
The YPG and PYD in Syria are affiliates of the PKK, which is listed as a terrorist group by the U.K., the U.S. and the European Union.
Thursday’s update comes after a number of British citizens were arrested, investigated or prosecuted for links to organizations which are illegal in Turkey.
In July this year, a 24-year-old Briton, an ex-soldier called Joe Robinson who allegedly fought in Syria alongside the YPG in 2015, was arrested by armed police in western Turkey’s tourist hotspot of Didim.
Robinson had reportedly posted pictures on social media showing himself in combat gear and taking part in YPG operations. He remains in custody in Turkey and faces terrorism-related charges.
Other individuals who visited Syria and Iraq, or tried to join the conflict there, have also faced scrutiny back in the U.K.
Josh Walker, another British man who took part in YPG operations in Syria, was arrested under the Terrorism Act in December 2016 upon his return to the U.K.
In 2015, teenager Silhan Ozcelik became the first British citizen to receive a conviction for trying to join the PKK, receiving a 21-month jail term. She was described by the trial judge, John Bevan, as “a stupid, feckless and deeply dishonest young woman”.
The Turkish government has intensified its counterterror operations following deadly attacks carried out by the PKK and its offshoots.
In a report for the Henry Jackson Society published in August this year, security analyst Kyle Orton singled out the U.K. for scrutiny over its nationals going to join the PKK in Syria.
“Allowing British citizens to go abroad to join a violent non-state actor with a record of war crimes is morally dubious, displacing onto foreign populations the risks of their misconduct, to say nothing of the danger these individuals expose themselves to, which the government should try to prevent.”
The report also warned of “security threats from returnees.”
Source: Anadolu Agency