Lizzie Dearden, Independent, July 8, 2019
Tommy Robinson has launched a public appeal for Donald Trump to grant him “political asylum” as he faces imprisonment.
The anti-Islam activist, whose real name is Stephen Yaxley-Lennon, was found to have committed contempt of court last week.
Ahead of his sentencing hearing on Thursday, Robinson appeared on the InfoWars conspiracy channel to broadcast a message to the US president.
“I beg Donald Trump, I beg the American government, to look at my case,” he said on Monday. “I need evacuation from this country because dark forces are at work.”
Robinson claimed that he would be killed if he is jailed, alleging that British prisons are “controlled by jihadi gangs”.
Tommy Robinson supporters protest outside the Old Bailey
“This is a direct appeal on behalf of my family – we love the United States, I have no future here [in Britain],” he added. “The country has fallen.”
Robinson ranted about “globalists”, the media and “political correctness”, accusing the British government of trying to “silence” him.
Host Alex Jones claimed that Mr Trump “would be watching” and vowed to send a video of Robinson’s appeal to the White House.
There was no immediate comment from the State Department over whether they have received a formal request from Robinson, or would consider one.
A spokesperson said that all visa applications are assessed on a case-by-case basis, and that they could not speculate on whether someone may be eligible.
Robinson has enjoyed mounting American backing, with Donald Trump Jr tweeting in his support and the president’s ambassador for international religious freedom raising his imprisonment with the British government last year.
Republican members of the US Congress later invited Robinson to speak in Washington, but he was not granted a visa in time to attend the event in November.
He has previously been refused entry to the US because of criminal convictions for violence, drug possession and public order offences.
Robinson was jailed for using a friend’s passport to travel to New York illegally in 2012.
An American think-tank, the Middle East Forum, has also been supporting Robinson and funded “Free Tommy” protests after he was jailed last year.
Following a re-hearing of the same case, High Court judges found the 36-year-old had broken a reporting restriction on grooming trials at Leeds Crown Court in May 2018.
The Independent revealed that Robinson’s Facebook live video sparked an application by five defence lawyers to dismiss a jury who were deliberating on charges against men who groomed and raped girls in Huddersfield.
Judge Geoffrey Marson QC dismissed the application and the defendants were convicted, in the second of three linked trials that saw 20 men jailed.
Judges ruled that Robinson also interfered with the course of justice by “aggressively confronting and filming” some of the defendants and said his Facebook live “gave rise to a substantial risk that the course of justice in that case would be seriously impeded”.
“In our judgment, the respondent’s conduct in each of those respects amounted to a serious interference with the administration of justice,” said Dame Victoria Sharp.
Robinson, who previously suggested he would appeal the ruling, will be sentenced at the Old Bailey in London on Thursday morning.