A prominent British far-right activist has not been granted a visa to the United States in time to attend an event focusing on Islam with Republican lawmakers in Washington this week, according to organizers of the event.
Tommy Robinson, the founder of the far-right English Defence League (EDL), was due to attend the event with seven Republican congressmen on Wednesday.
But the conservative Philadelphia-based Middle East Forum, which is organizing the event, told CNN on Tuesday that Robinson had not been granted a visa in time to attend.
Middle East Forum president Daniel Pipes said Robinson had applied for a visa, but the application was still “in the administrative processing phase.” Pipes added that Robinson was set to take part in the event via video link.
Robinson has not replied to a CNN request for comment. The US State Department told CNN that US law prohibits discussion of individual visa cases.
British far-right figurehead
Last week dozens of British lawmakers from several parties wrote to US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo urging the US not to allow Robinson – whose real name is Stephen Yaxley-Lennon – to travel and speak at Wednesday’s event.
“It would send a terrible signal if a convicted felon deemed inadmissable to the United States such as Yaxley-Lennon were allowed to travel to your country and speak before a prominent audience despite his conviction for previously entering the Unites States illegally,” said the letter.
Robinson left the EDL in 2013 but has continued campaigning as a far-right activist, attacking the influence of Islamic extremism and arguing against Muslim immigration.
He has been convicted of assault, and served jail terms for fraud and an attempt to enter the US on a false passport.
Most recently, Robinson was jailed for 10 months in May after pleading guilty to contempt of court for a Facebook Live webcast during a criminal trial at Leeds Crown Court. He received a further three months for breaching the terms of an earlier suspended sentence.
Robinson was freed on bail in August after winning his challenge against the sentence. The case has been referred to the UK attorney general, the government’s top legal adviser.
The high-profile court battle earlier this year over his case made him something of a far-right figurehead in Britain, also attracting the support of US President Donald Trump’s former chief strategist Steve Bannon.
The letter from UK lawmakers warned of Robinson promoting his “violent and extremist agenda,” adding that the activist was expected to raise around $1.4 million during the upcoming visit.
“We expect he would use those funds to organize further disruptive demonstrations in communities across the UK,” said the letter.
Bianca Britton contributed to this report from London. Jennifer Hansler contributed from Washington.