Home Office suspends cooperation with US over two Isis 'Beatles' who could face death penalty

Sajid Javid had initially decided to waive Britain’s usual position of demanding assurances that capital punishment would not be applied

Thursday 26 July 2018 22:35
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British Isis militants Alexanda Kotey and El Shafee Elsheikh were stripped of their British citizenship before being captured in Syria
British Isis militants Alexanda Kotey and El Shafee Elsheikh were stripped of their British citizenship before being captured in Syria

The Home Office has temporarily suspended cooperation with US authorities over the case involving two British-raised jihadis who could face the death penalty.

Sajid Javid has been forced into the concession after he made the decision to waive Britain’s usual position of demanding assurances that the death penalty would not be applied.

Two members of a British Isis cell known as “The Beatles”, Alexanda Kotey and El Shafee Elsheikh, had been stripped of their British citizenship before they were captured in Syria earlier this year.

They are currently imprisoned by the Syrian Democratic Forces but are set to be transferred to the US after months of diplomatic wrangling over which country would take responsibility for their prosecution.

In a letter to Jeff Sessions, the US attorney general, Mr Javid insisted that the case does not impact on the UK’s opposition to the death penalty, but did not seek the normal assurances that it would not be used.

The decision was taken by Mr Javid and Boris Johnson, the then foreign secretary, and was approved by Theresa May.

However, after Mr Javid was put on notice that Elsheikh was intending to apply for a judicial review to quash the decision, he temporarily suspended cooperation with US authorities.

A Home Office spokesperson said: “Yesterday we received a request from the legal representative of the family of one of the suspects to pause the MLA [mutual legal assistance] response. We have agreed to a short-term pause.

“The government remains committed to bringing these people to justice and we are confident we have acted in full accordance of the law and within the government’s longstanding MLA policy.”

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