British jihadi bride Shamima Begum 'faces torture or hanging in other countries if we don't let her back into UK', claim her lawyers

  • Shamima Begum, 20, wanted to return to London but was left 'stateless'
  • Her lawyers are now arguing that she should be allowed back into the UK  
  • Said she was a victim of rape because she was under 16 when pregnant  

Shamima Begum (pictured) wants to return to the UK to argue she was a victim of statutory rape

Shamima Begum (pictured) wants to return to the UK to argue she was a victim of statutory rape

Stripping a jihadi bride of her British citizenship has put her at risk of torture or hanging, her lawyers said yesterday.

Shamima Begum, 20, wanted to return to London but was left 'stateless' after then home secretary Sajid Javid removed her citizenship while she was held at a refugee camp in Syria, an immigration court was told.

Her lawyers said she had been left with no safe option and told the Special Immigration Appeals Commission in London that Mr Javid's actions were unlawful. 

They said Begum faced death threats from Islamic State agents in Syria because she had recanted her support for the terror group, and could face torture and execution in other countries.

Lawyers for the Home Office insisted her safety was put at risk only because she had chosen to leave Britain and travel to Syria to join the terror group. 

They said the former London schoolgirl was entitled to citizenship in Bangladesh, although authorities in Dhaka have denied this and have threatened to hang her if she enters the country.

The case will be considered this week by a panel of immigration judges, who will decide if her citizenship should be restored.

The panel will not hear evidence about whether Begum poses a threat to national security. That is expected to be considered at a future hearing.

Yago Riedijk
Tasnime Akunjee '

Begum's lawyer Tasnime Akunjee (right) has argued that her husband Yago Riedijk (left) raped the teenager 

There was anger earlier this year when it was revealed that Begum had received legal aid to launch the immigration appeal despite allegations that she had helped to stitch suicide bombers into their explosive vests and had worked to enforce IS's strict morality laws.

Begum left Bethnal Green with two school friends in February 2015, when she was 15, and travelled to Syria to join the fanatics. 

Once in the IS stronghold of Raqqa she married a jihadi fighter, Dutch convert Yago Riedijk, and went on to have three children with him.

Speaking before yesterday's hearing, her family's solicitor said she was effectively a rape victim because she was under 16 when she first became pregnant, and therefore below the legal age of consent.

She lived under IS control for three years before she was discovered in a refugee camp in a Kurdish-controlled area of Syria earlier this year. 

Speaking in February, she said she had no regrets about joining IS but wanted to return to Britain because she was pregnant again and feared for her child's life.

Mr Javid stripped her of her British citizenship, saying she posed a threat to national security. Begum later recanted her support for IS and said her previous comments were an attempt to protect herself and her unborn child.

The child, a boy, died from pneumonia in the camp shortly after he was born. Her two other children also died as infants.

Lawyers for Begum said she had been moved to a different camp for her own safety after she was threatened by IS loyalists. They said the situation in Syria remained 'incredibly fragile and dangerous'.

Begum (pictured) previously said that her mental health had been hindered by her experience

Begum (pictured) previously said that her mental health had been hindered by her experience 

They said she was now 'abandoned' at the Al-Roj camp in 'wretched and squalid' conditions because of the decision to remove her citizenship. 

Other foreign detainees had been transferred to Iraqi custody and faced torture and unfair trials resulting in the death penalty, her lawyers said.

In court documents, Tom Hickman QC said she could also face execution if she travelled to Bangladesh.

He said there was no evidence Begum had ever visited Bangladesh or that she could speak Bengali.

She was a child when she left Britain and simply wanted to return home to her family, he added.

Home Office lawyers said Begum was entitled to Bangladeshi citizenship 'by descent' and had not been left stateless.

The hearing continues. 

Sajid Javid stripped Begum of her British citizenship when he was Home Secretary

Sajid Javid stripped Begum of her British citizenship when he was Home Secretary 

British jihadi bride Shamima Begum 'faces torture or hanging'

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