London – A woman of British descent who went to Syria as a schoolboy to join the Islamic State should not return to Britain to challenge a government that took her citizenship because it poses a security risk, the UK Supreme Court said on Friday.
Shamima Begum left London in 2015 at the age of 15 and went to Syria with her two school friends through Turkey, where she married an IS fighter.
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21-year-old Begum, who was held in a Syrian prison camp, was deprived of his British citizenship in 2019, but the Court of Appeal had previously agreed that he could only lodge a fair appeal against that decision if he was returned to Britain.
But the country’s supreme court has overturned that decision, meaning while it can still appeal against the decision to take away its citizenship, it cannot do so in Britain.
The British government has argued that intelligence agencies have concluded that joining the Islamic State poses a serious current threat to national security.
“If a vital public interest — in this case, public safety — makes it impossible to hear the case fairly, the courts cannot properly hear it,” Supreme Court judges concluded.
The case of Begum has been the subject of heated debate in Britain, and those who say he has abandoned his right to citizenship by traveling to the IS are confronted with those who argue that it should not be left stateless but rather brought to justice in Britain.