The US Ambassador for International Religious Freedom has reportedly complained to the British ambassador in Washington about the treatment of jailed right-wing activist Tommy Robinson.
Reuters on Saturday reported that Sam Brownback had raised the case of Robinson - real name Stephen Yaxley-Lennon - in a June meeting with Sir Kim Darroch.
Robinson’s supporters are staging a demonstration in London today from 1pm, marching from Temple Place in Whitehall along a pre-set route, but are expected to meet Trump followers at the American Embassy in an event that will be heavily policed.
Scotland Yard said earlier this week that both events will be subject to a series of restrictions “due to concerns of serious public disorder and disruption to the community”.
Robinson was jailed for 13 months in May after using Facebook Live outside Leeds Crown Court to broadcast details of a child grooming trial, despite a court order banning it from being reported.
The 35-year-old’s imprisonment has sparked a rash of protests across the country, with one in London on June 9 leading to violent clashes between his supporters and police. Five police officers were injured at the rally and nine people were arrested.
According to Reuters, Brownback raised the jailing of Robinson during a meeting with Darroch that covered a range of “religious freedom issues”.
Brownback reportedly told Darroch that if Britain did not treat Robinson more sympathetically, the Trump administration might be compelled to criticise Britain’s handling of the case, Reuters said, quoting unnamed sources in contact with the organisers of today’s rally in support of Robinson.
The sources said Robinson’s supporters, who have also been in touch with the Trump administration about the issue, were concerned that he could be attacked by other prisoners.
During one of Robinson’s previous incarcerations he claimed prison authorities had put his “life at risk” by putting him on a “wing full of Muslims”.
Reuters said it was unable to determine why Brownback would try to intervene with the British government on behalf of an activist who has expressed ant-Islamic views.
In November last year Donald Trump caused widespread outrage after re-tweeting three inflammatory anti-Islam videos spread by Britain First’s Deputy Leader Jayda Fransen.
Britain First has at times worked with Robinson, who founded the English Defence League and was a co-ordinator for Pegida UK.
Brownback, who is a former governor of Kansas and former US senator, was not available for comment.
However, on Thursday a US State Department spokesman said the “characterisations” of Brownback’s meeting with Darroch by Reuters sources were “completely false”.
The spokesman did not elaborate further.
The British Embassy did not comment.
Last week, the Middle East Forum, a Philadelphia group, said it was sponsoring and organising the “Free Tommy Robinson” demonstration in London in collaboration with British and European groups.