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IS suspect Jack Letts stripped of British citizenship

British officials declined Kurdish calls to take Letts back to Britain to be tried in the UK courts
Jack Letts, who is a convert to Islam, left the UK in 2014, first travelling to Jordan (screengrab ITV news)

A suspected Islamic State member detained by Kurdish authorities has been stripped of his British citizenship by the UK government.

Jack Letts, 24, travelled to Syria from his home town of Oxford in 2014 when he was 19-years-old. Letts, who is also a dual UK-Canadian national, was captured by the Kurdish-led YPG forces in May 2017 when he left IS territory.

The UK Home Office said it did not comment on "individual cases" related to "deprivation orders".

The YPG charged him with being a member of the Islamic State group and called on the British government to take him back. 

The British Foreign Office said: "The government is unable to provide support to British nationals in Syria as the UK government does not have consular representation there."

Tasnime Akunjee, the lawyer for the family of Shamima Begum, who had left London for Islamic State's self-declared caliphate as a schoolgirl before being stripped of her citizenship earlier this year, said that the move was a sign that Britain was showing itself to be "incapable of administering justice".

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"The use of citizen stripping powers was never meant to be used to replace a trial by jury. This government in using such powers affirms only the notion that Britain is declaring its self incapable of administering justice and thus weakening our standing as a nation with values."

Speaking to The Times, Andrew Mitchell, a Conservative MP and former Minister of International Development said the move set a bad example for other countries to follow.

“As a member of the United Nations security council, Britain sets a bad example to other countries if we do not take responsibility for such dangerous, evil people, as a result of rescinding their citizenship," he said.

He added: “It is not in our own interests or those of other innocent countries that such people should be left stateless and unaccountable. What if Canada follows this bad example?”

Since his arrest, Letts told ITV news that he wished to return to Britain, but said that would be unlikely. 

The Mail on Sunday reported that Letts has had his British citizenship revoked, a move that was one of the last under Theresa May's government. 

In June, his father, John Letts, who is also a UK-Canadian national, and his mother Sally Lane, were charged in London with funding terrorism. 

The parents sent Letts £223 ($270) but avoided jail time after being sentenced to 15 months imprisonment, suspended for 12 months. 

This latest decision comes after the UK government said it would not bring back children of British members of the Islamic State group. 

The decision, made after a cross-departmental review, was one of the last acts of former home secretary Sajid Javid before his promotion to chancellor last month, according to The Times newspaper.

Citizenship can only be removed from dual nationals and where there is a "risk to national security," as to leave a person stateless is illegal under international law.

Earlier this year, when Javid stripped Begum of her British citizenship, he argued that depriving her nationality would not make her stateless as he believed she was entitled to Bangladeshi citizenship.

Begum was found in a Syrian refugee camp in February. She was 15 years old when she left her home in London to join IS in 2015.

Bangladesh's foreign minister has said that Begum could be hanged for terrorism charges if she lands in Bangladesh. 

A Home Office spokeswoman said: “Decisions on depriving a dual national of citizenship are based on substantial advice from officials, lawyers and the intelligence agencies and all available information.

“This power is one way we can counter the terrorist threat posed by some of the most dangerous individuals and keep our country safe.”