Canada 'disappointed' U.K. stripped 'Jihadi Jack' of British citizenship: Goodale
Jeremiah Rodriguez, CTVNews.ca Staff
Published Sunday, August 18, 2019 12:22PM EDT
Last Updated Sunday, August 18, 2019 10:00PM EDT
Canada is “disappointed” the United Kingdom revoked the citizenship of accused ISIS fighter and dual British-Canadian citizen Jack Letts, according to a statement from Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale’s office.
His statement outlined that the Government of Canada is aware of Lett’s citizenship being revoked and that “Canada is disappointed that the United Kingdom has taken this unilateral action to off-load their responsibilities.”
Letts, who was dubbed "Jihadi Jack" by the U.K. media, has been detained in a Kurdish prison for two years after he went to Syria at age 18 and crossed into territory held by the Islamic State in 2014.
“Terrorism knows no borders, so countries need to work together to keep each other safe,” the statement read.
A statement from the U.K.’s Home Office, which is responsible for the country’s immigration and security, said that revoking British citizenships is a way it counters terrorist threats.
"Decisions on depriving a dual national of citizenship are based on substantial advice from officials, lawyers and the intelligence agencies and all available information," the statement said.
Letts was born in the U.K. His mother Sally Lane is British, and his father John Letts is Canadian. His father was born and raised on a farm in Canada, but moved to the U.K. to do his Masters degree.
The U.K.’s actions may make the alleged ISIS fighter the sole responsibility of the Canadian government.
“Instead of him now being a dual national, where Canada would potentially work with the U.K. about deciding how best to bring him home, where he would be repatriated, if so, who would prosecute, now that rests entirely on Canada’s shoulders,” explained Leah West, of the Norman Paterson School of International Affairs.
“We are not able to comment on specific cases or national security operational matters,” the statement went on to read, adding that Canadians involved in terrorism or violent extremism have to be held accountable for what they’ve done.
Goodale’s office also said it's aware of other Canadian citizens in Syria but that consular services cannot be given because of “undue risk in this dangerous part of the world.” The statement added there is "no legal obligation to facilitate their return."
Letts' parents have been advocates for their son, arguing he isn’t a terrorist and actually needs Canada’s protection. John Letts is not happy with the U.K.’s decision, saying it’s “shirking responsibility and passing the buck off to the Canadians.”
Although Letts’ home is the U.K., his mother said that he “wants to come back to whatever country will take him, and he was under the impression that actually Canada … expressed a willingness to have him back.”
Conservative MP Pierre Poilievre said in his opinion, that’s not the case.
“It is not the job of the Canadian Government or the Canadian taxpayer to now come to (Letts’) rescue after he has been caught,” he said.
In June, John and Sally Letts were found guilty of funding terrorism when they tried to send Letts money. The couple received suspended sentences of 12 months in prison.
Last year, they wrote a letter to members of Parliament and Global Affairs Canada explaining that the money was supposed to pay "people smugglers," which John Letts described as his son's "only way out" of Syria.
In an interview with CTV’s Power Play in October, Letts said he’d be “the first to condemn him” if his son committed any criminal acts.