Jihadi Jack could avoid prosecution for joining Isil as a Canadian

Jack Letts, also known as Jihadi Jack - PA
Jack Letts, also known as Jihadi Jack - PA

The Muslim convert nicknamed Jihadi Jack has appealed to Canada to take him after being stripped of his British citizenship - as it emerged he will escape prosecution if they accept him.

Reacting to the British Government’s decision to revoke his citizenship, Jack Letts, 23, who is currently being held by the Kurds in northern Syria after leaving Britain to join Isil in 2014, said: “I was expecting something like this to be honest.

“I’ve been here for two and a half years and the British government has not helped me at all.  These things have very little meaning to me to be honest. I don’t think British citizenship is a big deal.”

Letts, who has previously admitted he was an enemy of Britain and said he would have loved to become an Isil martyr in a suicide operation, has dual British-Canadian nationality through his Canadian father, John, 58, and has held a Canadian passport.

He told ITV News: “I’ve always felt that I am Canadian, my Dad is Canadian, and I never grew up being accepted as a British person anyway.

“But, in the same way Britain hasn’t helped me for 2.5 years, Canada has done nothing. I always thought Canada was a better country, I had this illusion.

“I hope Canada does take me from here, I could go there, to prison of course. If I’m really a Canadian citizen, why haven’t they taken me by now?”

John Letts and Sally Lane have branded Sajid Javid a "coward" after son's citizenship was revoked - Credit: Yui Mok/PA
John Letts and Sally Lane have branded Sajid Javid a "coward" after son's citizenship was revokedCredit: Yui Mok/PA

The British decision to revoke Letts’ citizenship has placed him at the centre of a diplomatic row as the Canadians have expressed disappointment at Britain for “off loading” its responsibilities.

However, John McKay, chair of Canada’s committee on public safety and national security, said that even if Letts came to Canada, he would escape prosecution for joining Isil through a loophole in Canadian law.

He said: “The problem is that we are between a rock and a hard place. Our legislation works on the assumption - and it is actually stated in legislation - that you have to leave from Canada in order to be prosecuted for a terrorist offence. We are unable to initiate any prosecution.”

He described Britain’s decision to revoke Letts’ citizenship as “gutless.” “This young man, however misguided he is, is entirely a British subject,” said Mr McKay.

“He is raised in Britain, he was educated in Britain. Everything about him is British. The only formal connection he has with Canada is through his father [who is Canadian]. Frankly, I don’t think it’s the way two allies should be treating each other.”

A spokesman for Canada’s Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale said: “Canada is disappointed that the United Kingdom has taken this unilateral action to off-load their responsibilities.”

Although he said Canada was aware of some of its citizens who were being held in Northern Syria, the spokesman added: “There is no legal obligation to facilitate their return.  We will not expose our consular officials to undue risk in this dangerous part of the world.”

It is expected Canada’s prime minister Justin Trudeau will raise Letts’ case with Boris Johnson at the forthcoming G7 summit in Biarritz this weekend.

In his TV interview, Letts maintained he had never killed anyone or enslaved anyone.“I only ever fought the Syrian regime which killed one million people. I’m not a murderer. I’ve never tortured anyone. I’m just a person who made a stupid mistake.”

He said he had given up hope of seeing his parents face to face. “Speaking to them on the phone would be great,” he said. “I have absolutely no rights. I can’t even speak to my mum so how can I speak to a lawyer?”

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