Aiden Aslin: Man given death sentence to return to Ukraine

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Aiden Aslin says he will report on the Ukraine war on YouTube

A former soldier held by Russian-backed forces in Ukraine says he will return to the country as an online reporter.

Aiden Aslin was captured in April but was among five British nationals released in September.

Mr Aslin, from Newark, Nottinghamshire – who was sentenced to death – said he was beaten and stabbed while being held prisoner.

Now he has said he will report on the war from his YouTube channel but not take part in fighting.

Mr Aslin was captured in April while fighting in the south-eastern city of Mariupol.

After his release, he revealed he was kept in a small cell with an open window, no toilet facilities and little food.

He said he was also threatened with death, punched and forced to sing the Russian national anthem.


By Emma Vardy, BBC News

Returning to Ukraine after such a horrific experience may seem surprising.

But Aiden has long accepted the risks.

Ukraine was his home for four years – he still has a deep connection to the country and a drive to play a role in the conflict he feels he understands.

Conflict material on social media attracts a considerable audience. There are many fighters, civilians, and citizen journalists who tell their stories on Instagram, YouTube, or other platforms, bringing us closer than ever to the realities of war.

This is the medium Aiden now intends to use to help shine a light on the continued struggle of his former comrades. He feels he will be able to provide a perspective that perhaps mainstream media outlets cannot.

Aiden is a well-known face in Ukraine by now, which will open some doors, but he also knows it could increase the danger.

For loved ones at home, it is not easy to let him go again, but they stand by his decision.

Earlier this month Alexander Nikulin, the judge who sentenced Mr Aslin and two others to death, was shot and injured in an apparent assassination attempt.

Ten detainees, including Mr Aslin, were released in September after Saudi Arabia said it had brokered an exchange between Russia and Ukraine.

Among them were five British nationals, including Mr Aslin, John Harding, Dylan Healy, Andrew Hill and Shaun Pinner.

Mr Aslin, Mr Pinner and a Moroccan national, Brahim Saadoun, were put on trial in the self-declared Donetsk People's Republic and told they faced the death penalty.

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