Bherlin Gildo

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Bherlin Gildo is a Swedish national who Britain's "counter-terrorism" police[Who?][citation needed] suspected of having attended a training camp and fighting for the rebels in Syria between 31 August 2012 and 1 March 2013. Gildo was arrested at Heathrow airport in October 2014 on his way from Copenhagen to Manila in the Philippines after a period of working in Sweden. His name appeared on a British Airways manifest which attracted the attention of the security services.[1]

Bherlin Gildo was flying to Manila to join his wife, a Filipina, when he was stopped under schedule 7 of the 2000 Terrorism Act, the same statute used to question David Miranda, partner of the former Guardian journalist Glenn Greenwald, in 2013.[2]

Brought to court

In June 2015, Bherlin Gildo's trial at the Old Bailey collapsed after it became clear Britain’s security and intelligence agencies would have been deeply embarrassed had the trial gone ahead.

Evidence reviewed

Riel Karmy-Jones, for the Crown, told the court that after reviewing the evidence it was decided there was no longer a reasonable prospect of a prosecution:

“Many matters were raised we did not know at the outset,” she told the recorder of London, Nicholas Hilliard QC, who lifted all reporting restrictions and entered not guilty verdicts.

Karmy-Jones told the court in pre-trial hearings that Gildo had worked with Jabhat al-Nusra, a “proscribed group considered to be al-Qaeda in Syria”. He was photographed standing over dead bodies with his finger pointing to the sky.

Affront to justice

In earlier court hearings, Gildo’s defence lawyers argued he was helping the same rebel groups the British government was aiding before the emergence of the extreme Islamist group, ISIS. His trial would have been an “affront to justice”, his lawyers said.

Defence counsel Henry Blaxland QC said:

“If it is the case that HM government was actively involved in supporting armed resistance to the Assad regime at a time when the defendant was present in Syria and himself participating in such resistance it would be unconscionable to allow the prosecution to continue. If government agencies, of which the prosecution is a part, are themselves involved in the use of force, in whatever way, it is our submission that would be an affront to justice to allow the prosecution to continue.”

Gildo’s defence lawyers quoted a number of press articles referring to the supply of arms to Syrian rebels, including one from The Guardian on 8 March 2013, on the west’s training of Syrian rebels in Jordan. Articles in the New York Times from 24 March and 21 June 2013, gave further details and an article in the London Review of Books from 14 April 2014, implicated MI6 in a “rat line” for the transfer of arms from Libya.[3]


After the hearing at the Old Bailey, Gildo’s solicitor, Gareth Peirce, said his case had exposed a number of “contradictions” – not least that the matters on which he was charged were not offences in Sweden, and that the UK government had expressed support for the Syrian opposition:

“He has been detained in this country although he did not ever intend to enter this country. For him it’s as if he has been abducted by aliens from outer space. Given that there is a reasonable basis for believing that the British were themselves involved in the supply of arms, if that’s so, it would be an utter hypocrisy to prosecute someone who has been involved in the armed resistance.”[4]


Related Document

TitleTypePublication dateAuthor(s)Description
Document:Now the truth emerges: how the US fuelled the rise of Isis in Syria and IraqArticle3 June 2015Seumas MilneAmerican forces bomb one set of rebels while backing another in Syria, and mount what are effectively joint military operations with Iran against ISIS in Iraq while supporting Saudi Arabia’s military campaign against Iranian-backed Houthi forces in Yemen