Though the judge himself agreed Benjamin Stimson did no physical harm to anyone, least of all any civilians
Benjamin Stimson, a Brit from Greater Manchester has been sentenced to a jail sentence of five years and four months for "terrorism" by a court in Britain, though his only "crime" is to have joined the pro-Russian rebels in East Ukraine for four months in 2015.
Stimson joined a frontline militia in East Ukraine, but it is unclear if he ever fired a shot in anger, and more than likely that he did not. In fact in sentencing him the British judge said he agreed Stimson was not an extremist and had probably never engaged in violence:
Sentencing him, the Honorary Recorder of Manchester David Stockdale QC said: 'You ultimately did no physical harm to anyone but you assisted the militia by your presence and your involvement, and you will have given a lead to others.
You ultimately did no physical harm to anyone but you assisted the militia by your presence and your involvement, and you will have given a lead to others.
'I accept you do not hold extremist views and you have expressed your regret for your actions.
'It is clear to me that your intention of going there was not to fight but to escape your life in the United Kingdom, perhaps to find adventure and to possibly carry out humanitarian work.
'There is no evidence at all that you at any stage used any violence upon anyone. There is no evidence that you actually engaged in combat.
'On the contrary there is evidence that your presentation as a fighting man was in large part an exaggeration on your own part or even the product of fantasy.'
Despite that Stimson was pressured to plead guilty to "assisting others in committing terrorism acts". He had no other choice really given that under Britain's incredibly broad legal definition of terrorism any political violence — not just against civilians, but even conventional warfare by rebels against regular troops is considered "terrorism" (unless of course if London lionizes said rebels. See Syria, Libya, Kosovo). As the prosecutor in Stimson's case explained:
The defendant accepts by his plea that by serving as an armed militiaman in an irregular force opposing the Ukrainian army he was assisting others with the intention of committing acts of terrorism.
'Taking up arms for a cause that was either political or ideological brings the defendant within the broadly drawn terrorism legislation.
But it is really BBC's Home Affairs Correspondent, Dominic Casciani who spells out the real reason Stimson was sentenced, and to such a long prison term to boot:
Benjamin Stimson's case is unusual - but it's really important because his conviction and jailing illustrates that terrorism legislation is not focused on offenders from one community who turn to violent extremism for one cause.
The fighter pleaded guilty to preparing for acts of terrorism. Prosecutors have turned successfully to this offence time and again to prosecute British men who have gone to fight in Syria and Iraq - or tried to do so.
Stimson "had to be" imprisoned for a long time to show that Britain's hunt for terrorists is color-blind and pursues Englishmen assisting secular causes, as well as Islamists of largely immigrant backgrounds.
It had nothing to do with any sin Stimson may have committed, and everything about the judiciary proving its multicultural credentials by jailing itself a Limey.