Tommy Robinson wired £20k in Bitcoin while in jail by supporters

Former English Defence League leader Tommy Robinson. Picture: PA Wire
Former English Defence League leader Tommy Robinson. Picture: PA Wire
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International support for former English League Defence founder Tommy Robinson has rocketed since he was jailed in May.

Fans of Robinson’s official Facebook page have increased by almost 10 per cent to just over 830,000 followers.

The rise is nearly 20 per cent on YouTube to 230,000 where he encourages viewers to support his work with Bitcoin contributions.

Followers from as far afield as Istanbul and Washington have sent Robinson almost £20,000 worth of Bitcoin.

This included a payment of more than £5,500, which passed through his Bitcoin wallet on the day he was jailed.

READ MORE: Tommy Robinson freed on bail after winning contempt challenge

The majority of those payments came in the week after he was imprisoned on 25 May as figures from around the world painted his cause as an issue of free speech rather than contempt of court.

Right-wing media outlets including Fox News, Breitbart and Robinson’s former employer, Rebel Media, also flocked to his cause over the past two months, alongside high-profile figures including Donald Trump Jr and actress Roseanne Barr.

Following his successful challenge against the contempt of court finding, far-right Dutch politician Geert Wilders was among those showing their support to Robinson, tweeting it was “fantastic news!”

At an event last month, funded in part by US think-tank Middle East Forum and organised by former Breitbart UK editor Raheem Kassam, leading far-right politicians from Europe voiced their support for Robinson and slammed the perceived evils of Islam.

Gregg Roman, director of Middle East Forum (MEF), which has also lobbied American politicians about Robinson’s case, said: “The Middle East Forum’s efforts to rally international support for Tommy Robinson’s release were vindicated today.”

Ukip leader Gerard Batten compared Robinson to Nelson Mandela in a speech at the event in which he also called the prophet Muhammad a paedophile and said “rape gang members are predominantly followers of the cult of Muhammad”.

Campaigners raised concerns about the impact of such rhetoric – a dominant theme among Mr Robinson’s supporters – on the British Muslim community.

Commenting on today’s High Court decision to release Robinson, Nick Lowles, chief executive of Hope Not Hate, said: “Far from being a martyr for ‘free speech’, his are the actions of a dangerous, narcissistic extremist attempting to unite the far right around his virulent Islamophobic agenda.”

Heidi Beirich, deputy director of the Southern Poverty Law Centre, which monitors hate groups across the US, said the level of support for Robinson was “extraordinary”.

She said: “I’ve never seen anything like this. It’s not typical to have those kind of political officials advocating on behalf of people who take part in street fights and anti-Muslim rallies. It’s a shock.”

Franziska Schroeter, a researcher at Berlin’s Friedrich Ebert Foundation, claimed for the majority of political groups supporting Robinson the aim was “to get into power to build a society that is more like the things they want”.

“Steve Bannon right now is kind of successful in the US and is trying to take over Europe with the same idea,” she said.

A former special adviser to Donald Trump, Mr Bannon met European politicians in London on the same weekend as many came to the UK for the event in support of Robinson.

He has since told reporters he discussed setting up an organisation in Brussels to fight for seats in the 2019 European Parliament elections.

Since founding the English Defence League in 2009, Robinson has devoted his life to preaching his opposition to Islam, immigration, human rights and “political correctness”, threatening journalists and involving himself in fist fights in the process.

After failing to establish a UK chapter of German far-right street movement Pegida in 2016, Robinson has spent the past two years touring the world and building connections with far-right figures in the US and Europe, connections which are now starting to bear fruit.

Data collected by ISD showed 32 per cent of tweets posted to the #FreeTommy hashtag in July came from the US, compared with 40 per cent from the UK, mirroring research from Hope Not Hate in the first weeks of the campaign in late May and early June.