“IS Bride” loses appeal over loss of British citizenship

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(FILES) In this file photo taken on February 22, 2015 Renu, eldest sister of missing British girl Shamima Begum, holds a picture of her sister Shamima, while being interviewed by the media in central London. A woman who was stripped of her British citizenship after travelling to Syria to marry an Islamic State group fighter lost her legal battle to reverse the decision on February 22, 2023. Judge Robert Jay dismissed the Special Immigration Appeals Commission (SIAC) appeal brought by Shamima Begum, who was aged 15 when she left her London home to travel to Syria in 2015. (Photo by Laura LEAN / AFP)

Shamima Begum, who left Britain as a teenager to join the Islamic State (IS), lost her appeal against the British government’s decision to remove her citizenship on Wednesday.

Begum and two other east London schoolgirls left Britain for Syria in early 2015 to join the IS. They married jihadi fighters and lived under IS rule.

She was stripped of her British citizenship on national security grounds in 2019, shortly after she was found in a displacement camp in Syria. Begum, now 23, is living in a refugee camp controlled by armed guards in northern Syria.

Begum’s lawyers challenged the citizenship removal at a hearing in London in November, when they argued that Britain’s Home Office did not formally assess whether she was a victim of trafficking before putting her in “exile for life.”

The Special Immigration Appeals Commission, a specialist tribunal that deals with appeals against the British government’s decisions over refusing or removing British citizenship, dismissed Begum’s appeal on Wednesday.

Announcing the tribunal’s decision, Judge Robert Jay said there was a “credible suspicion” that Begum was trafficked to Syria for sexual exploitation as a child and that there were “arguable breaches of duty” by state bodies that failed to stop her from leaving Britain, but these factors are insufficient for her appeal to succeed. 

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