The parents of a British man suspected of travelling to Syria to join the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (Isil) have accused the Foreign Office of being “completely obstructive” of their efforts to free him from a Kurdish prison.
Jack Letts, a Muslim convert from Oxford, was dubbed “Jihadi Jack” after he went to the war-torn region in 2014. He was captured in May by Kurdish forces after he fled from the Isil stronghold of Raqqa. It is his 22nd birthday on Tuesday.
John Letts and Sally Lane said the UK government had done nothing to help their son as he languished in prison.
“The Foreign Office have been completely obstructive. Alistair Burt [the Foreign Office minister] has sent us four identical letters saying that they can’t do anything,” Ms Lane told The Guardian.
Mr Letts parents said they were “outraged” over comments by Rory Stewart, the international development minister, who said that the way to deal with Britons who join Isil was to kill them in Syria “in almost every case”.
The family have consistently denied that Mr Letts was a member of the jihadist group, saying that he suffered serious mental health problems and did not understand what he was doing when he went to Syria.
Ms Lane said that if there was any evidence that Mr Letts was affiliated with Isil he should be brought back to the UK to face trial rather than sitting indefinitely in a Kurdish prison.
Mr Letts’ parents are themselves awaiting trial on charges they made funds available for terrorism by sending money to their son. They deny the charges.
The family has not been able to speak to Mr Letts since July but said they had spoken to some of the Kurdish fighters manning the prison in northern Syria where he is being held.
A Foreign Office spokesman said: “As outlined in the FCO’s travel advice, the government is unable to provide support to British nationals in Syria as the UK government does not have consular representation there.
“Anyone who does travel to Syria, for whatever reason, is putting themselves in considerable danger.”