LONDON: A British man left stateless in 2017 when his citizenship was stripped has had it reinstated following a lengthy court battle.
The man, identified in court documents as E3, had his citizenship removed in 2017 while he was in Bangladesh for the birth of his daughter.
In a deprivation-of-citizenship order sent to his mother’s UK address, the government alleged that he was “an Islamist extremist who had previously sought to travel abroad to participate in terrorism-related activity.”
It said he was considered a threat to national security and would not be allowed to return to Britain.
His lawyers were not given any evidence of the criminal activity upon which the decision was based because it was “secret.”
Five years on, the government has reinstated the man’s citizenship, but he faces another court battle to provide his daughter with UK nationality.
“I never thought I would win my case; not because I am guilty of anything but because the system is set up to make you lose,” the man, who was born in London but is of Bangladeshi heritage, told The Independent.
“It was incredibly difficult. It is something that you cannot prepare for — you are suddenly cut off from your home, your family and friends, your job and source of income, and everything you take for granted.
“I was stranded in a country with a family that were financially dependent on me and I had no way of providing for them.”
He said he felt helpless and in danger from the Bangladeshi government. “If they were to learn that the British government had accused me of terrorism, they would probably detain and torture me as they routinely do with terrorism suspects,” E3 added.
“I had been sent into exile for a crime that I was not told about; I was not brought before a judge, had not even seen the evidence, so was not at all hopeful for a positive outcome to my appeal.”
The UK government is currently attempting to push the Nationality and Borders Bill through Parliament, which would make it significantly easier to remove the citizenship of those considered threats to national security.
The bill has proved controversial — if implemented, almost half of all British Asians and two in five black Britons would be eligible to have their citizenship revoked, potentially at short notice.
Anas Mustapha of advocacy group Cage, which is supporting E3’s family, told The Independent that E3’s case “exposes the cruel nature of citizenship deprivation” which, he added, “nearly exclusively impacts Muslims and people of color.”
The Good Law Project published advice on the bill, currently being reviewed by the House of Lords, and concluded that if it becomes law it will have “a disproportionate impact on non-white British citizens.”