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IS bride appeals for financial aid to fight UK citizenship case

Press Trust of India  |  London 

Runaway IS bride will receive the UK taxpayer-funded legal aid to fight against the government's revocation of her British citizenship, according to UK on Monday.

The 19-year-old schoolgirl of Bangladeshi descent, who fled the UK to join the Islamic State (IS) in over four years ago, was stripped of her British citizenship by UK in February this year after she appealed for safe passage back to the country of her birth from a Syrian refugee camp.

Her family had said it planned to challenge the decision.

The decided to assist in response to an application made on March 19, the reports said.

According to Britain's legal aid system, financial assistance is provided by the taxpayers to those who are unable to afford legal representation themselves, regardless of their citizenship, whether they are accused of a crime or a victim who seeks the help of a through the court process.

The reports of Begum's access to the aid was received with some concern within the circles, with UK saying the Legal Aid Agency's decision to assist has made him "very uncomfortable."

"On a personal level, it makes me very uncomfortable because she made a series of choices and she knew the choices she was making, so I think we made decisions about her future based on those choices," Hunt said.

"However, we are a country that believes that people with limited means should have access to the resources of the state if they want to challenge the decisions the state has made about them," he said.

The grounds for revoking Begum's citizenship are believed to be linked to her parents' Bangladeshi dual nationality, which makes her eligible for dual nationality.

However, the government has since denied any such right for the British-born national.

Tasnime Akunjee, who has represented the Begum family since 2015, has filed an appeal for her with the (SIAC).

A said: "We are unable to comment on individual cases. Anybody applying for legal aid in a SIAC case is subject to strict eligibility tests."

Last month, Akunjee had sent a letter on behalf of the Begum family to Javid asking for "mercy" and a rethink over his decision following the death of her three-week-old baby boy after falling ill at the Syrian detention camp.

Her case has since reportedly been taken over by of London-based legal firm & Partners.

A for the Office said it would not comment on individual cases, but added that "any decisions to deprive individuals of their citizenship are based on all available evidence and not taken lightly".

Under the 1981 British Nationality Act, a person can be deprived of their citizenship if the is satisfied it would be "conducive to the public good" and they would not become stateless as a result.

"I have not deployed the power on the basis that someone could have citizenship to a second country. I've always applied it on the strict advice (of lawyers) that when the power is deployed with respect to that individual they already have more than one citizenship," Javid told the last month, when called in to explain his decision to revoke Begum's citizenship.

Begum was 15 when she fled to join in February 2015 and married Dutch recruit as a so-called jihadi bride. Her 27-year-old husband is being held in a Kurdish detention centre in north-eastern Both the and have since denied that Begum would have a right to enter either country.

Begum, currently lodged at a Syrian detention camp, lost new-born baby last month to a and has repeatedly appealed to be allowed to return to the UK.

"I was brainwashed. I came here believing everything that I had been told, while knowing little about the truths of my religion," she said in her last interview from the camp earlier this month.

Her case, now the subject of appeals and legal challenges, is expected to run into many months and even years.

(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

First Published: Mon, April 15 2019. 18:35 IST