Jihadi bride Shamima Begum who fled east London to join ISIS fights decision to revoke British citizenship

ISIS bride Shamima Begum was denied a fair hearing when she was stripped of her British citizenship and refused permission to fly back to the UK to fight her case, the High Court heard today.

Ms Begum was 15-years-old when she left Britain with two friends to join Islamic State in February 2015, marrying a jihadi fighter in Syria and spending more than three years in terrorist-control territory.

After news broke in February last year that she was now in a Syrian refugee camp, then-Home Secretary Sajid Javid revoked her citizenship on national security grounds.

A Special Immigration Appeals Commission (SIAC) then ruled that Ms Begum, who grew up in east London, had not been rendered stateless by Mr Javid’s decision as she is “a citizen of Bangladesh by descent”.

The tribunal also found Ms Begum, who has been denied permission to fly back to the UK to fight her case, could not play a “meaningful part in her appeal”.

Taking her case to the Court of Appeal today, Tom Hickman QC said the Home Secretary’s decision to revoke citizenship should be declared “unlawful” as he would have known Ms Begum could not properly take part in any appeal.

“The consequences of the appellant not being able to have a fair and effective appeal means the Secretary of State’s decision stands in definitely, possibly forever, without there ever having been a judicial decision on the merits”, he said.

“That piles fairness upon unfairness and is wrong in law.

Ms Begum, now 20, was one of three schoolgirls from Bethnal Green Academy who flew from Gatwick Airport to Istanbul, Turkey, on February 17 2015, before making their way to Raqqa in Syria.

She has told journalists she married IS fighter Yago Riedijk within ten days of arriving in the terrorist-controlled territory, and openly discussed life under the extremist regime.

Ms Begum said she had two children with Mr Riedijk but they have since died. She was heavily pregnant when news of her move to a refugee camp broke, but the third child also died shortly after being born.

Mr Hickman said Ms Begum now insists she was not telling the truth about harbouring pro-ISIS views when she first spoke to journalists, fearing for her safety in the refugee camp she was in.

After moving camps, she gave another interview claiming that she “doesn’t share their views” and had not told the truth because she was receiving threats.

Mr Hickman pointed the court to government figures showing that 40 per cent of around 900 people who have travelled to ISIS-controlled regions of Syria later returned to the UK and most were “assessed to pose a low security risk”.

“Just because someone has gone out to Syria is in itself not an indication that pose a security risk”, he said.

In a written submission to the court, Sir James Eadie, one of three QCs representing the government, said Ms Begum had been the architect of her own situation, rather than the decision taken by Mr Javid.

“The fact that (she) could not fully engage with the statutory appeal procedure was a result of her decision to leave the UK, travel to Syria against Foreign and Commonwealth Office advice and align with ISIL”, he said.

“This led to her being held in conditions akin to detention in a foreign state at the hands of a third party, the Syrian Defence Force. It was not the result of any action by the Secretary of State and the Deprivation Decision did not have any causative impact on (her).”

Lord Justice Flaux, Lady Justice King and Lord Justice Singh are hearing the appeal over two days and will deliver a ruling at a later date.

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