LONDON (AP) — The British government is going to the U.K.’s Supreme Court to challenge the return of a woman who ran away from home as a teenager in London to join the Islamic State group.
A lower appeals court ruled earlier this month that Shamima Begum had the right to come back to her home home country to mount a legal challenge aimed at restoring her British citizenship, which was revoked on national security grounds.
The three-judge Court of Appeal panel ruled that “the only way in which she can have a fair and effective appeal is to be permitted to come into the United Kingdom.” Britain’s Home Office challenged the decision, arguing that Begum doesn’t have the right to repatriate.
A lawyer for the Home Office, James Eadie, said there were “significant national security concerns” surrounding her return.
“The exposure of the public to an increased risk of terrorism is not justifiable or appropriate in an individual case on fairness grounds save perhaps in the very rarest of cases … this was not such a rare case,” he said.
Begum, now 20, was one of three east London schoolgirls who traveled to Syria in 2015. She resurfaced at a refugee camp in Syria and said she wanted to come home, but her apparent lack of remorse triggered criticism and opposition to such a move.
Former Home Secretary Sajid Javid revoked her citizenship. Begum challenged Javid’s action, arguing that it left her stateless.
The British government claimed she could seek a Bangladeshi passport based on family ties. But Begum’s family argued that she was from the U.K. and never held a Bangladeshi passport
The situation has thrown into sharp relief the larger question of how Western societies deal with people who joined IS but want to go back to their home countries.
Justice Eleanor King of the Court of Appeal for England and Wales agreed Friday that Begum’s case raised “points of law of general public importance” which should be considered by the U.K.’s highest court.
In a related matter, King said the court would ask Britain’s attorney general to look into the leak of the three-judge panel’s ruling in the case to The Sun newspaper. King said The Sun published an article that appeared before the court’s decision was released and cited “government sources.’’
“The content of The Sun article lends itself to the inference that the government sources referred to were seeking to strike first in the media, thus setting the agenda in a way which was unsympathetic to (Ms Begum) at a time when there would be no opportunity for any balancing comment to be included,’’ Belgum’s lawyer, Adrian Waterman ,said in a written submission.“In addition to being a contempt of court, the draft judgment had contained information taken from a witness statement…which was covered by a confidentiality order.”