The father of a British-Canadian man dubbed Jihadi Jack — who was recently stripped of his U.K. citizenship — says he’ll be pressuring politicians to help get his son into Canada.
“We have, and of course, we will because every day that we do nothing, he is dying slowly in a jail cell and we believe he’s innocent,” John Letts, the father of Jack Letts, told the Roy Green Show in an interview Sunday.
“And I believe that he has a right to prove that he is.”
Jack Letts, from Oxford, U.K., is being held in a jail in northern Syria after being captured by Kurdish forces in 2014.
His father said he believes Jack, a devout Muslim, never joined the Islamic State and thought it was “un-Islamic.”
Jack’s suggestion that he wasn’t innocent in an interview with ITV was made under duress, John Letts said.
LISTEN: Full interview with John Letts
“If Jack has done anything wrong, I will be the first to condemn him publicly,” John Letts said.
The family is mulling their next steps, he said, but has not ruled out moving to Canada.
John Letts said he and his wife found out about a month ago that Jack’s British citizenship is being revoked, though the news broke in U.K. media this weekend.
He called the development unfair and criticized the U.K. government for not being able to tell him why.
WATCH: John Letts says he hasn’t talked to son in ‘four years’
Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale’s office said Ottawa has no legal obligation to help citizens detained in Syria return to Canada.
“We will not expose our consular officials to undue risk in this dangerous part of the world,” a statement issued Sunday said.
Wait, There’s More: Is “Jihadi Jack” Canada’s problem now?
The minister’s office also said it was “disappointed that the United Kingdom has taken this unilateral action to offload their responsibilities.”
“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.”
WATCH: Pierre Poilievre says Conservatives not seeking to bring ‘Jihadi Jack’ back to Canada
John Letts agrees terrorists need to be held accountable — but called the allegation that his son was an Islamic State member a “knee-jerk” assumption that started with the media.
“If there was any evidence that I felt that made Jack guilty of anything, I really wouldn’t be putting my face out here in front of the television camera,” he told Global News in a broadcast interview.
Jack Letts’ parents, who are both dual Canadian-U.K. citizens, were found guilty under U.K. anti-terrorism laws earlier this year for sending about $348 in September 2015. They received a suspended sentence.
WATCH John Letts — I don’t want my son “to die in a jail cell”
Last year, John Letts visited Canada to advocate for his son with senators, MPs and government officials.
“I’ve now written to the Prime Minister’s Office and said please can we try to resolve this situation and we’re willing to do everything we can to make sure Jack is never a danger, never a threat,” he said.
WATCH: (May 23, 2019) Jihadi Jack’s parents stand trial for funding terrorism
— With files from Mike Le Couteur, Maryam Shah, Global News and the Canadian Press
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