Hill Al-Jedda, a former Iraqi, allegedly helped an explosives expert travel to Iraq and conspired with him to target coalition forces there.He was also accused of being a terrorist recruiter. He was arrested in Iraq in 2004 and held for three years before being released without charge.
But the Government may now be powerless to stop him living in the UK after losing a complicated legal case over citizenship in the Court of Appeal.Al-Jedda was granted asylum in the UK in 1992 after fleeing Saddam Hussein’s regime and was granted British citizenship in 2000.
After his return to Iraq and subsequent arrest, the British Government stripped him of that citizenship in 2007 on the grounds that it was “conducive to the public good” to do so.But the Court of Appeal yesterday ruled that decision was flawed because it made him “stateless”, which is illegal under an international convention.It transpired that Al-Jedda automatically lost his Iraqi citizenship when he was given the British one.
In an added blow, it emerged that the last Labour Government could have avoided such cases by implementing a special clause in law ten years ago but failed to do so.The Home Office is appealing the ruling but if it loses, Al-Jedda, who is currently living in Turkey, will have his British citizenship reinstated and be allowed to live here.Three Appeal Court judges said they had made the ruling “reluctantly” but had “no choice”.
Lord Justice Richards said: "In one way that result is deeply unsatisfactory, in that the Secretary of State is satisfied, for reasons upheld by SIAC (the Special Immigration Appeals Commission), that to deprive the appellant of his British nationality is conducive to the public good."
Al-Jedda, a father-of-six was first detained in Baghdad in October 2004 on suspicion of being involved in weapons smuggling and attacks with explosives.
The 54-year-old was interned because it was believed that he had recruited and aided terrorists, including a terrorist explosives expert known as Mounir, with a view to committing atrocities in Iraq.He was suspected of conspiring with Mounir to attack coalition forces in the aftermath of the invasion, using improvised explosive devices (IEDs).
British intelligence services also believed he had conspired with Mounir and members of an Islamic terrorist cell in the Gulf to smuggle hi-tech detonation equipment for IEDs into Iraq.Al-Jedda unsuccessfully challenged the legal basis for his detention twice, his first case going all the way to the House of Lords, then the UK's highest court.
He was released from detention without charge on December 30 2007 and travelled to Turkey the following January, where he was joined by his third wife and some of his children.The appeal court was told Al-Jedda wants to return to the UK but is prevented by his loss of citizenship.Lord Justice Stanley Burnton agreed the appeal had to be allowed but said it was a conclusion he had reached reluctantly.
He added that if the Government had retained the right, conferred by the original provisions of the British Nationality Act 1981, to remove a person's UK nationality on the ground that he had shown himself to be disloyal or disaffected to the Crown, the result of the case might well have been very different.
For reasons of which the court was unaware, that right was abolished when the 1981 Act was amended in 2002.
Lord Justice Gross expressed "great reluctance" to allow the appeal but said he was driven to do so, even though Al-Jedda's case was "conspicuously lacking in merit and where the Secretary of State has determined that depriving the appellant of his British nationality is conducive to the public good."
Patrick Mercer, the Tory MP and former Army officer, said: “It sticks in the craw that someone who might be attacking our soldiers will be given British citizenship.”A Home Office spokeswoman said: “We are extremely disappointed with this decision, and will seek to appeal the Court’s findings.”