August 18, 2019 11:45 am
Updated: August 19, 2019 11:17 pm

U.K. citizenship stripped from ‘Jihadi Jack,’ leaving him with only Canadian citizenship

WATCH: "Jihadi Jack" Letts loses U.K. citizenship, could come to Canada


Editor’s note: This story has been updated to correct the name of Jack Letts’ mother. Global News regrets the error. 

British-Canadian Jack Letts, nicknamed “Jihadi Jack” by the British media, has been stripped of his British citizenship, leaving him with only Canadian citizenship.

John Letts confirmed to Global News’ Roy Green that his son’s British citizenship has been revoked.

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A spokesman for Minister of Public Safety Ralph Goodale said in a statement the government is aware of the U.K.’s decision.

“Terrorism knows no borders so countries need to work together to keep each other safe. Canada is disappointed that the United Kingdom has taken this unilateral action to offload their responsibilities,” the statement read.

“Investigating, arresting, charging and prosecuting any Canadian involved in terrorism or violent extremism is our primary objective. They must be held accountable for their actions.”

READ MORE: Don’t strip ISIS terror suspects like ‘Jihadi Jack’ of citizenship, experts say

The Mail on Sunday was the first to report the news.

Wait, There’s More: Is “Jihadi Jack” Canada’s problem now? 

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A statement from the U.K.’s Home Office said revoking British citizenship is one way it counters terrorist threats. It said it does not comment on individual cases.

“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 U.K. Home Office statement said.

Letts joined ISIS as a teenager and is currently being held in a Kurdish-run jail in northern Syria.

A Muslim convert, Letts was a U.K. citizen who also holds Canadian citizenship through his father. In 2014, he travelled to Syria, where he was captured by Kurdish forces.

WATCH: John Letts: I don’t want my son “to die in a jail cell”

The statement from Goodale’s office acknowledged that the Canadian government is “aware of some Canadian citizens currently detained in Syria.”

“There is no legal obligation to facilitate their return,” the statement read. “We will not expose our consular officials to undue risk in this dangerous part of the world.”

It also noted that Goodale’s office is “not able to comment on specific cases or national security operational matters.”

The Mail on Sunday story claimed the U.K.’s decision had ignited a diplomatic spat with Canada — a characterization that the Canadian government contests.

READ MORE: Why the U.K. can revoke an ISIS bride’s citizenship, while the U.S. won’t let one return

Letts’ Oxford, U.K.-based parents made headlines earlier this summer when a British court convicted them of funding terrorism.

John Letts and Sally Lane were found guilty of sending their son £223 (C$348) in September 2015. Police had reportedly warned them not to do so. The couple received suspended sentences of 12 months.

John Letts wrote a letter to Canadian MPs last year that said his son is not a terrorist and deserves Canada’s protection. In his letter, Letts wrote that the money was to pay “people smugglers,” which he described as his son’s “only way out” of Syria.

WATCH: ‘Jihadi Jack’s’ parents stand trial for funding terrorism

Letts’ citizenship was reportedly revoked under Theresa May, who resigned as prime minister on July 24.

Under international law, countries cannot revoke a person’s citizenship if doing so renders them stateless.

READ MORE: Parents of ‘Jihadi Jack’ guilty of funding terrorism, U.K. jury finds

A controversial 2015 amendment to the Citizenship Act meant that the Canadian government once had the power to revoke citizenship specifically from dual nationals convicted of spying, treason or terrorism offences. The Liberals repealed this amendment in 2017.

Former U.K. defence minister Tobias Ellwood addressed dual nationalities of ISIS fighters on Twitter Sunday, saying that conflicts have “changed but international laws have not been updated.”

“If (we) are to stay safe and prevent ISIS 2.0 we must work with our allies and think more strategically than simply removing UK citizenship from radicalised dual nationals,” he tweeted.

Pierre Poilievre, the Conservative MP for Carleton, addressed the U.K.’s decision in Ottawa on Sunday.

“Frankly, we think that he (Letts) is responsible for his own actions and it is not the job of the Canadian government to come to his rescue,” he told reporters.

WATCH: Pierre Poilievre says Conservatives not seeking to bring ‘Jihadi Jack’ back to Canada

— With files from the Canadian Press, Reuters and Global News

© 2019 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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