Winston Marshall, a founding member of folk-rock group Mumford & Sons, announced Thursday that he is leaving the band so that he can "speak freely" about political issues, per the AP. Marshall took a break from the band in March after sparking a social media storm by tweeting admiration for Unmasked, a book by right-wing writer-activist Andy Ngo that attacked far-left militant groups collectively known as antifa. The guitar and banjo player was accused online of endorsing the far right, but said Thursday that "nothing could be further from the truth. I condemn unequivocally all political extremism, be it of the Right or Left." Marshall said his bandmates had "invited me to continue with them," but he had decided to leave so that he could "speak freely without them suffering the consequences."
Marshall had apologized to "those closest to me, including my bandmates" after the tweet, saying, "I realize how my endorsements have the potential to be viewed as approvals of hateful, divisive behavior" and promising "to examine my blindspots," per the Guardian. In Thursday's statement, he noted that "as long as I am a member of the band, speaking my mind on the evils of political extremism could bring them trouble. My loyalty and love for them cannot permit that." Marshall said he plans to undertake new creative projects, "as well as speaking and writing on a variety of issues." Earlier this year Marshall co-founded Hong Kong Link Up, a charity that works to integrate Hong Kongers settling in Britain because of increasing political repression in the semi-autonomous Chinese city state.
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