Family of captured Briton claim ‘propaganda’ video breached Geneva Convention

Relatives of Aiden Aslin also denounced Russian claims that the 28-year-old is a ‘volunteer, a mercenary, or a spy’.

(Danny Lawson/PA)
(Danny Lawson/PA)

The family of a British man captured while fighting with Ukrainian armed forces have spoken of their distress at TV footage of him shown on Russian television.

Relatives of Aiden Aslin also denounced claims that the 28-year-old is a “volunteer, a mercenary, or a spy” as propaganda issued by the Kremlin.

In a statement issued through their MP Robert Jenrick, who represents Newark in Nottinghamshire, the captive’s family said: “In 2018 Aiden moved to Ukraine where he met his girlfriend and eventually settled down in Mykolaiv.

“Aiden decided to join the Ukrainian marines and has served in his unit for nearly four years.

“He is not, contrary to the Kremlin’s propaganda, a volunteer, a mercenary, or a spy. Aiden was making plans for his future outside the military, but like all Ukrainians, his life was turned upside down by Putin’s barbarous invasion.

“He has played his part in defending Ukraine’s right to self-determination. The video of Aiden speaking under duress and having clearly suffered physical injuries is deeply distressing.

“Using images and videos of prisoners of war is in contravention of the Geneva Convention and must stop.

“Together with the family of Shaun Pinner (the second Britain captured in Mariupol), we are in contact with the Foreign Office to ensure the Russian authorities meet their obligations to prisoners of war under international law, and ultimately to secure the release of Aiden and Shaun.

Pro-Kremlin politician Viktor Medvedchuk has been held in Ukraine (Ukrainian Presidential Press Office/AP)

“Aiden is a much-loved young man with a strong network of friends around him and a loving wife-to-be. In this difficult time, we urge you to respect the privacy of our family.”

Family members previously described Ukraine as Mr Aslin’s adopted country.

Images aired on Russian television earlier this week appeared to show Mr Aslin being led around in handcuffs with a cut on his forehead.

The family statement came after Northern Ireland Secretary Brandon Lewis refused to be drawn on suggestions of a possible prisoner exchange when asked about reports of Britons captured while fighting for the Ukrainian military.

In footage broadcast on Russia’s Rossiya 24 on Monday, Mr Pinner addressed Boris Johnson and appeared to ask for himself and Mr Aslin to be swapped for pro-Kremlin politician Viktor Medvedchuk, who has been held in Ukraine.

Andriy Zagorodnyuk (Alamy/PA)

Ukraine’s former defence minister Andriy Zagorodnyuk told The Times the two Britons were legitimate members of the country’s armed forces.

Parading Mr Aslin and Mr Pinner, 48, on state television was a violation of the Geneva Convention, Mr Zagorodnyuk said.

He told the newspaper: “There is a very clear process in Ukraine to accept international soldiers or service people. It has been fully legal, it has been official.

“Mercenaries usually are people making money (from conflict). That’s totally not the case that we’ve got here.”

A video of Mr Aslin being questioned, said to have been recorded in the Donetsk area on Monday, includes a claim that he was a mercenary rather than a prisoner of war.

Posted on the YouTube channel of British man Graham Phillips, who describes himself as a journalist, the “interview” shows Mr Aslin being told the death penalty can be used against mercenaries.

Register for free to continue reading

Registration is a free and easy way to support our truly independent journalism

By registering, you will also enjoy limited access to Premium articles, exclusive newsletters, commenting, and virtual events with our leading journalists

Please enter a valid email
Please enter a valid email
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Please enter your first name
Special characters aren’t allowed
Please enter a name between 1 and 40 characters
Please enter your last name
Special characters aren’t allowed
Please enter a name between 1 and 40 characters
You must be over 18 years old to register
You must be over 18 years old to register
Opt-out-policy
You can opt-out at any time by signing in to your account to manage your preferences. Each email has a link to unsubscribe.

By clicking ‘Create my account’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Already have an account? sign in

By clicking ‘Register’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Register for free to continue reading

Registration is a free and easy way to support our truly independent journalism

By registering, you will also enjoy limited access to Premium articles, exclusive newsletters, commenting, and virtual events with our leading journalists

Already have an account? sign in

By clicking ‘Register’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Thank you for registering

Please refresh the page or navigate to another page on the site to be automatically logged inPlease refresh your browser to be logged in