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Charges dropped against ex-soldier accused of attending anti-IS terror camps

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An ex-soldier accused of attending terror training camps run by militia fighting against IS has had charges against him dropped.

James Matthews was charged with getting training in Iraq or Syria “for purposes connected to the commission of preparation of terrorism”.

However, prosecutors have decided there is no longer a realistic chance of conviction on “evidential grounds”.

Mr Matthews, from east London, had been due to go on trial at the Old Bailey in November and had entered a not guilty plea.

When he was charged it was believed to be the first time terror laws had been used to prosecute someone who had helped a group (the YPG Kurdish militia) that was also being assisted by the UK government.

His lawyer, Joel Bennathan QC, said Mr Matthews was happy charges had been dropped.

He said: “We have always said the decision to prosecute Mr Matthews for fighting with the YPG against Isis was extraordinary and totally unjustified…

“Mr Matthews was always open about what he had done and it is baffling that the CPS (Crown Prosecution Service) took two years to decide to prosecute him, then seven months later they have suddenly realised there is not enough evidence to do so.

“After two-and-a-half years, we suggest Mr Matthews is entitled to a full and proper explanation of what has happened here and invite the court to direct that should be done.”

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