Meghan Markle’s half-sister has described Tommy Robinson as a “political prisoner” after he was jailed for breaching a Canterbury Crown Court order.
Samantha Markle is demanding that the English Defence League founder be released from the 13-month sentence imposed for the breach.
In May last year, Robinson, 35, was handed a suspended prison sentence by Canterbury’s leading Judge Heather Norton after pleading to contempt of court for attempting to film defendants in a rape trial.
Judge Norton said his behaviour inside and outside the Chaucer Road building threatened to disrupt the judicial process.
This week it emerged that his activities outside Leeds Crown Court during another trial breached the Canterbury order, a charge he admitted alongside another of contempt of court.
Conspiracy theories have been circulating in the US that his imprisonment is part of a plot to silence the right.
But Miss Markle’s claims that Robinson, real name Stephen Yaxley-Lennon, is a “political prisoner” and a victim of a clampdown on free speech have attracted criticism.
Luke Gittos, law editor at free speech magazine Spiked, said: “The idea that Robinson was arrested for his ideas is contrary to what we know about the case.
“Anyone else doing what Robinson did, in these circumstances, would also have been arrested and jailed.
“There may well be occasions [when] laws are used by the police to limit free speech. But Robinson’s arrest was not an example of this.
“The men he targeted are entitled to a fair trial and the presumption of innocence. Robinson was not arrested because of what he said. He was arrested because of when and how he chose to say it.”
The four men Robinson attempted to film, including a former Canterbury pizza shop owner, were jailed for a total of 50 years.
A jury convicted them of gang raping a 16-year-old girl in a grubby room above a Thanet kebab shop.