British anti-Islam activist Tommy Robinson freed from prison | News | DW | 01.08.2018
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British anti-Islam activist Tommy Robinson freed from prison

A court in London has released anti-Muslim activist Tommy Robinson on bail after he won an appeal against a contempt of court charge. Robinson's case has attracted the sympathy of President Trump's right-wing supporters.

Tommy Robinson (pictured above), the founder of a fringe Islamophobic group called the English Defence League (EDL), was released on Wednesday as the Court of Appeal in London quashed contempt charges against him and freed him from prison on conditional bail pending a new hearing.

The 35-year-old, who staged violent anti-Islam demonstrations in the past, was serving a 13-month jail sentence. Robinson, who also works as a correspondent for The Rebel Media, a Canadian political and social commentary website, was arrested in May for making video recordings outside a court in Leeds, in northern England, in breach of reporting restrictions.

"The appellant is granted bail and the matter of contempt at Leeds Crown Court is remitted to be heard again," said Lord Chief Justice Ian Burnett, the head of the English judiciary, in a judgment on Wednesday.

"We are satisfied that the decision at Leeds Crown Court to proceed to committal to prison so promptly… gave rise to unfairness."

Robinson's case will be re-heard at Old Bailey Central Criminal Court in London "as soon as reasonably possible," the appeal court judges said.

Read more: Study shows that a large minority of Germans would not accept Jewish or Muslim family members

'Off our streets'

Both Robinson's supporters and opponents were present in large numbers outside the London court.

"I'm very, very happy he's going home to his family," Dean Henry, a supporter, told AFP news agency.

Counterprotesters chanted slogans against him, shouting, "Nazi scum, off our streets."

"We want to stop Tommy Robinson. I'd like to see him in prison for life for what he is and what he does… there is no free speech for fascists," said anti-racism campaigner Mary.

Read more: Banishing the 'extremist' image - A crucial task for British-Pakistanis

Support from the Trump administration

Robinson's case attracted huge interest in the US, with aides of President Donald Trump and former White House chief strategist Steve Bannon demanding his release.

According to Reuters news agency, its sources claimed a Trump representative raised Robinson's case with Britain's ambassador to the US in July.

Robinson led the English Defence League from 2009 to 2013. In 2015, he became involved with the development of PEGIDA UK, a British chapter of the anti-immigrant far-right group PEGIDA (Patriotic Europeans Against the Islamization of the West) based in Germany.

Read more: Far-right German PEGIDA founder Lutz Bachmann refused entry into UK

In 2012, he joined the British Freedom Party, a short-lived far-right political party in the United Kingdom.

Robinson wrote an autobiography, Enemy of the State, and Mohammed's Koran: Why Muslims Kill for Islam, together with Peter McLoughlin.

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shs/jm (AFP, Reuters)

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