Terror suspects use human rights law in bid to get their passports back
Two terror suspects used Human Rights Law to launch a costly legal bid to get their passports returned so they could travel to Syria to fight with Islamic State.
A 19-year-old of Iraqi Kurd from the West Midlands took the Government to the Appeal Court in a failed attempt to force ministers to return his passport, which was seized from him after his elder brother travelled to Iraq to join the Isil terror group.
In the same case another man, aged 26, from London, who has links with fighters in Syria, also lost his bid to have his passport returned.
The court was told that on 26 March 2014, the elder brother of the 19-year-old man, known only as AI, left the United Kingdom and travelled to Syria and is currently understood to be Iraq fighting with Isil.
On 4 November 2014, West Midlands Police searched AI’s home. During the search, they seized his passport, which had been held at a relative’s house, and mobile telephone.
On 21 April 2015, AI was arrested on suspicion of planning to travel to Syria to be with his brother Mohammed and interviewed under caution. It was subsequently decided that no further action would be taken against him.
But in evidence submitted to the court the security services concluded that AI was “a British national who is assessed to be supportive of the actions and ideology of the terrorist organisation known as Islamic State (also known as IS, Isil and Isis).”
Officials told him: “It is assessed that you aspire to travel to Syria or Iraq in the future to engage in, and provide support for, terrorism-related activity on behalf of the Islamic State. It is assessed that these activities in Syria or Iraq would present a risk to the national security of the United Kingdom.”
In December 2016 AI was convicted under section 38B of the Terrorism Act 2000 for failing to disclose information relating to another individual’s plans to travel to Syria or Iraq to join Islamic State.
The second man, known only as XH, launched his court case under the Human Rights Act in November 2014, while he was serving a five year prison sentence for robbery, attempted robbery and possession of a bladed article.
He went to court after being told by officials that “the Home Secretary considers that it is not in the public interest that you should hold a passport.”
Officials had concluded that XH was “involved in terrorism-related activity” and was “likely to travel overseas in the future in order to engage in further terrorism-related activity”.
They told him: “It is assessed that these activities are so undesirable that the grant or continued enjoyment of passport facilities is believed to be contrary to the public interest.”
By February 2015 officials acting on intelligence information had concluded that XH, whose criminal record dates back to 2009, was an Islamist extremist “involved in terrorism-related activity”.
Before being tried for non-terror related crimes he had been found to be in possession of anti-American and Israeli propaganda and video clips in support of terrorism.
The court heard that it had been judged by the security services that XH may have maintained contact with associates in Syria engaged in Islamist extremist activities and that he was “likely to travel overseas in the future in order to engage in further terrorism-related activity” and that “these activities overseas would present a risk to the national security of the United Kingdom”.
AI argued that the Home Office had abused its powers in refusing to return his passport. XH’s lawyers also argued that the decision to cancel his passport infringed his rights under European Union law because it was disproportionate and because there were “insufficient procedural safeguards”.
The men’s appeals against the decision of the Home Office to retain their passport and prevent them travelling were rejected by three judges, Sir Terence Etherton, Lord Justice Lloyd Jones and Lord Justice Sales, sitting in the Court of Appeal.
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