British right-wing extremist activist Tommy Robinson is funded, politically and morally supported by a wide range of non-British groups and individuals, including US tunnels, far-right Australians and Russian trolls.
Robinson, an anti-Islam activist who organizes a treason march on Brexit in London, has received funding from a US technology billionaire and a thin bank based in Philadelphia.
Two other US think tanks co-funded by some of the biggest names in legal finance have published a series of articles in support of Robinson, who was imprisoned for two months from the two-month period of May.
His detention for ignoring court hearings triggered a strong international campaign on Twitter. 2.2 million tweets were released between May and October with the hashtag #freetommy.
A Guardian Institute for Strategic Dialogue, based in London, found that over 40% of tweets came from the United States, 30% from the United Kingdom and other significant volumes from Canada, the Netherlands and nine other countries.
A separate study of about 600 Twitter accounts It was believed that it was directly linked to the Russian government or closely related to its propaganda, and found that a significant number of tweets were tweeted in Robinson's defense.
On Facebook, Robinson has over 1 million followers in at least a dozen countries outside the UK, including the United States, Australia, Sweden and Norway.
Robinson, whose real name is Stephen Yaxley-Lennon, used Facebook's donation tools for several months designed for charity to raise money for his activism.
He says he has raised several hundred thousand pounds through online donations, some of which have been requested through the Facebook Donate button. Robinson said he intends to use the money to launch a European version of the right-wing Infowars conspiracy site and sue the UK government for its treatment in prison.
The tool is designed for charity only. When the Guardian made it known to Facebook, the social media company turned off the feature within a few hours.
The Guardian investigated Robinson's worldwide support after being arrested in Leeds before a rape case with defendants of predominantly Pakistani origin. It was released on 1 August after the appeal court ordered it to be tried again. The Attorney General decides whether to proceed with a new trial.
The investigation revealed that
The Middle East Forum (MEF), a Philadelphia-based think tank, admits that it spent about $ 60,000 ($ 47,000) on demonstrations of Robinson's legal fees in London at the start of this year. A senior head of the MEF was closely involved in the preparations for the march this weekend, even though the scarcely personal tank was present personally.
A US technology billionaire, Robert Shillman, has funded a scholarship that has seen Robinson hired by a right-wing Canadian media website, Rebel Media, in 2017 for a salary of around £ 5,000 a month.
A small Australian right-wing extremist group, the Australian Liberty Alliance, claims to have financed Robinson, but has not announced how much money they will give.
The Gatestone Institute in New York has published a series of articles in support of Robinson.
The David Horowitz Freedom Center (DHFC), a California-based think tank that calls itself a "political war school," has published a series of articles that defend Robinson and campaigned for a speech by US politicians.
Horowitz, co-founder of DHFC, told the Guardian in an e-mail, "Tommy Robinson is a brave Englishman who risked his life by exposing the rape epidemic of young girls led by Muslim bands and silenced by the their shameful government. "
MEF, Gatestone and DHFC are well funded by influential right-wing donors, such as tax returns examined by the Guardian show. In 2014-16, yields showed that they received almost $ 5 million from several million donors.
The MEF received $ 792,000 from a foundation led by Nina Rosenwald, co-chair of American Securities Management. the mother of anti-Muslim hate sugar ".
The DHFC received $ 1,638,290 from five wealthy benefactors, one of whom is considered one of the Republican Party's biggest donors.
Gatestone has received over $ 2 million in donations, including $ 250,000 from the Mercer Family Foundation, which is funded by Donald Trump's principal donor, Robert Mercer, and led by billionaire Rebekah's daughter.
All three tanks were repeatedly accused of fueling anti-Islamic sentiment in the West and spreading false information to Muslim refugees in Europe. All three, however, have denied being against Islam.
"Radical Islam is the problem and moderate Islam is the solution," said MEF president Daniel Pipes in an e-mail. "The MEF fights for the right to discuss Islam and related issues in a free, solid, open and public debate".
Pipes added that he believed Robinson had been prosecuted for his opinions and not for his actions outside the court.
He said: "In May 2018, he was arrested, tried, sentenced to 13 months in prison and imprisoned within five hours – it seems more like a banana republic than the house of the Magna Carta."
Rosenwald and the Gatestone Institute have strongly refused to be anti-Islamic. In a 5,000-word article in May, the institute said that "far from being anti-Muslim" it was "pro-Muslim" and did not want to "see Muslims deprived of freedom of speech allegedly scourged. or stoned to death ". l & # 39; adultery. "
A spokesperson said: "Gatestone is a platform for freedom of expression that publishes hundreds of online articles every year that express different opinions, including articles by Muslims.
Robinson, Shillman and Mercers did not respond to detailed requests for comments.
Support from prominent and well-funded groups undermines Robinson's self-image of a far-right populist loser whose anti-Islam program has been silenced by the British establishment.
Robinson was recently appointed official Ukip advisor to support his pro-Brexit rally on Sunday. Ukip's embrace on his part led to a break in the party and left two former leaders, Nigel Farage and Paul Nuttall and hundreds of members.
After 25 years at the party, Farage announced his resignation this week and wrote in The Daily Telegraph: The idea that Tommy Robinson was at the center of the Brexit debate is too terrible to think about. "
Robinson founded in 2009 the English Defense League, an extreme right-wing Islamophobe group. Since then he has broken and fallen. He often complains that he was smeared like a racist. He insisted that he was not interested in the color of his skin and that his objection was directed against the Islamic political ideology and not against the people.
However, he was filmed and said things like "Somalis are barbarous arrears"; British Muslims are "enemy fighters who want to kill, maim and destroy"; and refugees "rape their way through the country".
The news of his arrest on May 25 has triggered a wave of tweets Pro Robinson. An analysis of 2.2 million freetommy tweets between May and October showed that 42% come from the United States, according to the Institute for Strategic Dialogue.
In a second analysis of the Alliance for Securing Democracy (ASD) think tank, social media were discovered by a cluster of 600 accounts identified as affiliated to the Kremlin. The Pro Robinson tweets were responsible for three of the first five hash tags on May 27th. and most users have referred to articles on the right-hand websites of InfoWars, Breitbart, and Voice of Europe, the researchers said.
"Attention focused on the Tommy Robinson case at the end of May suggests that related reports in Russia have seen his arrest as a clear opportunity to strengthen political divisions in the UK and overseas," said Bret Schafer , analyst of social media in the US US ASD.
Fiyaz Mughal, founder of Tell Mama, who documented hate crimes against Muslims, described American and Russian support for Robinson as foreign interventionism. He said: "It should alarm everyone in this country, who appreciates the democratic principles on which our country is founded".
Additional coverage of Carmen Aguilar and Michael McGowan