Isis bride Shamima Begum loses first stage of appeal over revoking of British citizenship

Will Taylor
News Reporter

A woman who travelled to Syria to join Isis has lost the first stage of a legal challenge against the decision to revoke her British citizenship.

Shamima Begum was aged 15 when she, along with two other east London schoolgirls, left for Syria in February 2015.

Now 20, Begum lived under the terror group’s rule for more than three years before she was found in a Syrian refugee camp in February 2019, nine months pregnant.

Shamima Begum says she regrets speaking to the media and wishes she had found a different way to contact her family.

Then-home secretary Sajid Javid removed her British citizenship later that month, which Begum’s lawyers said was unlawful because it made her stateless.

It is lawful to remove British citizenship if a person is entitled to citizenship of another country.

Mr Javid argued that Begum is entitled to Bangladeshi citizenship through descent.

Last year, Begum launched legal action against the Home Office at the High Court and a tribunal called the Special Immigration Appeals Commission, which hears cases about someone’s citizenship removal when it happens on national security grounds.

Kadiza Sultana,16, Shamima Begum,15 and 15-year-old Amira Abase pictured at Gatwick airport before they fled to Syria. (PA Images)

The tribunal, led by SIAC president Mrs Justice Elisabeth Laing, ruled on Friday that the decision to revoke Begum’s British citizenship did not render her stateless.

Judge Doron Blum, announcing the decision of the tribunal, said that the move did not breach the Home Office’s “extraterritorial human rights policy by exposing Begum to a real risk of death or inhuman or degrading treatment”.

He said that while Begum “cannot have an effective appeal in her current circumstances”, it does not follow that her appeal succeeds on that ground.

In a statement, Begum’s solicitor Daniel Furner of Birnberg Peirce said his client “will immediately initiate an appeal” against the decision “as a matter of exceptional urgency”.

Shamima Begum is pictured aged 15, when she travelled to Syria via Turkey to join Isis (PA Images)

He said that the ruling “will be hard to explain to her”, adding: “The logic of the decision will appear baffling, accepting as it does the key underlying factual assessments of extreme danger and extreme unfairness and yet declining to provide any legal remedy.”

Mr Furner said: “The stark reality of her situation was brought before the court last year as a matter of exceptional urgency – how could she in any meaningful and fair way challenge the decision to deprive her of her nationality, a young woman in grave danger who had by then lost her three children?”

He added that “now, in February 2020, the dangers Begum faces have increased – her chance of survival (is) even more precariously balanced than before”.

Begum travelled to Istanbul, Turkey via Gatwick Airport before making her way with two others - Kadiza Sultana and Amira Abase - to Raqqa in Syria.

Begum claims she married Dutch convert Yago Riedijk 10 days after arriving in IS territory.

She told The Times last February that she left Raqqa in January 2017 with her husband but her children, a one-year-old girl and a three-month-old boy, had both since died.

Her third child died shortly after he was born.