Shamima Begum admits she would be willing to go to jail in the UK
But a legal expert stressed the decision of the German federal government set no legal precedent as far as the UK was concerned – and said Begum, who quit Britain to become a so-called Jihadi bride aged 15, was facing an uphill struggle to win her citizenship back. Begum, who was born to Bangladeshi parents in Bethnal Green in east London, is currently living in a refugee camp in Syria, with then-Home Secretary Sajid Javid stripping the 22-year-old of her British citizenship in 2019 and vowing that she would never be allowed to return.
Legal arguments have raged ever since, with the Court of Appeal last year ruling she could return to the UK to contest the government’s decision to rescind her British citizenship.
However, this decision was overturned by the Supreme Court of the United Kingdom, leaving her in limbo.
The German government’s decision to fly back the women, aged between 30 and 38, plus 23 children, from the Roj prison camp in northeast Syria, may have given Begum fresh hope in her quest to overturn the case.
However, Christopher Cole, a Consultant Solicitor at law firm Parker Rhodes Hickmotts, emphasised there was no reason to think Mr Javid’s successor, Priti Patel, or the British legal system, would be in any way influenced by events in a foreign country.
He told Express.co.uk: “The case is going to be referred back to the Special Immigration Appeals Commission (SIAC) for a substantive hearing to see if the Secretary of State has established that she’s such a sort of danger to society for security reasons, that she should be deprived of her nationality.
Shamima Begum’s bid to win back her citizenship is opposed by Home Secretary Priti Patel
Shamima Begum is interviewed on GMB
“That’s what the judges are going to have to consider. Obviously a lot of it will be evidence that won’t be disclosed because it will be from the security services.”
He added: “What has been decided already is that she is not going to be allowed back to the UK to give evidence.
“So she’s going to have somehow to give evidence from the refugee camp in Syria.
“Obviously, she’ll be arguing, I’d imagine, that she was she’s not a danger, she never was. She would probably argue that she was only a young girl who was brainwashed and groomed.
“And that even if she was somehow cognisant of what happened, she’s now seen the error of her ways, she is reformed and so she couldn’t be deemed a danger to national security.
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Shamima Begum recently gave an interview to GMB
“I assume that that’s the sort of way that she will place her arguments.”
Begum is also likely to argue she will never be allowed into Bangladesh, although Mr Cole suggested the matter had been settled by UK courts.
He explained: “The supreme judges in this country have decided that, as a matter of law, she is entitled Bangladesh citizenship although I think she may try and rehash that argument.”
Assessing her prospects, Mr Cole said: “It’s a difficult one because her lawyers have already argued that it’s going to be almost impossible for her to have a fair hearing because she can’t adequately provide instructions or participate.
“And then when you consider that will be closed evidence that she will never get to see from the security services about the assessment of risk, it’s an uphill struggle, I would imagine, to overcome.
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Shamima Begum as a 15-year-old in Bethnal Green
Shamima Begum pictured at the airport on her way to Syria
“Although obviously the burden is on the Secretary of State to prove that she’s this danger to national security which justifies the approbation of her citizenship.
“But Priti Patel has all the cards. They have all the evidence.”
Mr Cole stressed the case in itself was not actually that unusual.
He said: “There have been numerous cases within SIAC where people have had dealt with this issue of deprivation of citizenship, due to national security issues.
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“Legally, the interesting bit was about, went to the Supreme Court. Now whether she can participate, whether we’ve breached for human rights, not to allow her to come back at least participate in the hearings.
“It’s fairly run of the mill, frankly – there are a number of cases of British citizens accused of supporting terrorism in one way or another, where the Secretary of State has deprived from their citizenship.”
He also suggested a controversial interview with the Times which Begum gave from the refugee camp, in which she appeared nonchalant or unconcerned by atrocities perpetrated by ISIS, were counting heavily against her.
Mr Cole said: “It’s sort of luck of the draw, whether you’re the one that the government decided to pick on.
Shamima Begum now, and at the time of her controversial interview
“By courting the media and doing those interviews, that did her no favours.
“Literally hundreds of them have come back from Syria and nothing happening at all but once you are in the public eye, the Government’s got to be seen to do something about it.”
Explaining Germany’s decision, Foreign Minister Heiko Maas said: “The children are not to blame for their situation. It is right that we do everything we can to enable them to live in safety and in a good environment.
“The mothers will have to answer to the criminal justice system for their actions.”
(Additional reporting by Monika Pallenberg)