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ISIS bride's lawyer denies she has dual citizenship

Evening Standard logo Evening Standard 20/02/2019 Asher Mcshane, Olivia Tobin
a person wearing a black hat: The Bethnal Green teenager left London when she was 15(BBC) © Provided by Independent Digital News & Media Limited The Bethnal Green teenager left London when she was 15(BBC)

The lawyer for the family of ISIS bride Shamima Begum has denied she has dual citizenship.

Home Secretary Sajid Javid said last night that the 19-year-old Londoner, who fled the UK to join the Islamic State terror group in Syria aged 15, was to be stripped of her British citizenship.

International law forbids nations from making people stateless by revoking their only citizenship, prompting speculation that Ms Begum, who is of Bangladeshi heritage, held dual citizenship.

But her family's lawyer Tasnime Akunjee said today that Ms Begum was born in the UK and does not hold dual nationality.

Mr Akunjee said Ms Begum has never had a Bangladeshi passport and is not a dual citizen.

He had previously said the family were "very disappointed" over the decision to strip the teen of her British citizenship and they were "considering all legal avenues to challenge this decision".  a man wearing a costume © Provided by Local News RSS EN-GB

The Home Office said such decisions are "not taken lightly" and are carried out "in order to protect this country".

"We do not comment on individual cases, but any decisions to deprive individuals of their citizenship are based on all available evidence and not taken lightly."

ITV News reported a letter from the department was received by Ms Begum's mother on Tuesday.

"Please find enclosed papers that relate to a decision taken by the Home Secretary, to deprive your daughter, Shamima Begum, of her British citizenship," it read.

"In light of the circumstances of your daughter, the notice of the Home Secretary's decision has been served of file today (19 February), and the order removing her British citizenship has subsequently been made."

The letter asked the mother to inform her daughter of the decision, as well as her right to appeal.

a woman standing in front of a tiled wall: Shamima Begum pictured at Gatwick Airport in February 2015 (EPA) © Provided by Local News RSS EN-GB Shamima Begum pictured at Gatwick Airport in February 2015 (EPA)

The move comes after the teenager returned to the public eye when she was found heavily pregnant living in a refugee camp in northern Syria.

She gave birth to a boy over the weekend, having already lost two children, and made pleas for forgiveness and to be accepted back in the UK.

Metropolitan Police Commissioner Cressida Dick has signalled she could be arrested and investigated if she returns to Britain.

When Ms Begum left the UK, the then chief of counter-terror policing Sir Mark Rowley suggested that she might be treated as a victim of grooming.

a person posing for the camera: Shamima Begum, right, after she gave birth in Syria amid the storm over her possible return to the UK (Sky News) © Provided by Local News RSS EN-GB Shamima Begum, right, after she gave birth in Syria amid the storm over her possible return to the UK (Sky News)

But on Tuesday Ms Dick said: "We're a long way down the road since then."

Earlier, Mr Javid told the House of Commons he had the power of "stripping dangerous dual nationals" of their British citizenship, adding: "Over 100 people have already been deprived in this way."

Conservative former minister George Freeman criticised the move as a "mistake" that will set a "dangerous precedent".

The MP for Mid Norfolk tweeted: "She was born here, educated here & is our responsibility. We should defend our system & she should be brought back to face the UK courts."

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