British teenager Shamima Begum, who left her home country in 2015 to join the Islamic State terrorist group, will be stripped of her United Kingdom citizenship, her advocate said on Tuesday. UK newspaper The Times found Begum in a refugee camp in Syria last week. The teenager, who was pregnant at the time, said she wanted to return to Britain.
Mohammed T Akunjee, Begum’s lawyer, said on Twitter that her family is “very disappointed with the Home Office’s intention to have an order made depriving Shamima of her citizenship”. He added that the family is considering all legal avenues to challenge the Home Office’s decision.
An unidentified Home Office spokesperson refused to comment on individual cases, but said decisions to deprive citizenship are taken “based on all available evidence and not taken lightly”, BBC reported. “In recent days the Home Secretary [Sajid Javid] has clearly stated that his priority is the safety and security of Britain and the people who live here,” he added.
Javid said last week that he “would not hesitate” to prevent the return of those who joined terror organisations like the Islamic State group, CNN reported.
Begum can be stripped of her UK citizenship because she is eligible for citizenship of another country, BBC said citing government sources.
Under a 1981 British law, a person can be deprived of their citizenship if the home secretary is satisfied it would be “conducive to the public good” and they would not become stateless, the news network said. However, Begum’s son, who was born on the weekend, will be considered British because his birth took place before she was stripped of citizenship.
Begum is believed to be of Bangladeshi heritage, but told the BBC she does not have a Bangladeshi passport and has never been to the country.
Akunjee told The Independent that the Bangladesh government does not know who Begum is. “Our position is that to all practical purposes she has been made stateless,” he added.
Conservative MP George Freeman condemned the decision to revoke Begum’s citizenship, calling it a “mistake and a dangerous precedent”. “She was born here, educated here and is our responsibility,” he tweeted. “We should defend our system and she should be brought back to face the UK courts.”