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British court rules woman who left for Syria can return

A row of British flags displaying the Union Jack is seen at Parliament Square in London, Britain. File Photo by Rune Hellestad/UPI
A row of British flags displaying the Union Jack is seen at Parliament Square in London, Britain. File Photo by Rune Hellestad/UPI | License Photo

July 16 (UPI) -- An appeals court ruled Thursday that a woman who left Britain for Syria five years ago to marry an Islamic State fighter can return to fight for her citizenship in her native country.

The Court of Appeal in London said concerns that Shamima Begum is a security risk can be managed, but she can only challenge the Home Office's decision to revoke her citizenship by physically being in Britain.

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Begum, now 20, left Britain for Syria with two friends in 2015 and married a militant fighter there. She had three children, all of whom are now dead, and she is being held in a detention camp run by the Syrian Democratic Forces.

With her citizenship revoked, Begum had been prevented from returning to Britain. The court ruled Thursday that if London wishes to strip her citizenship it must allow her to return for appeal.

"The court acknowledges that there are national security concerns about Ms. Begum but the court reaches the conclusion, that, notwithstanding those concerns, the only way in which she can have a fair and effective appeal before [the Special Immigration Appeals Commission] is for Ms.Begum to be permitted to come into [Britain] to pursue that appeal," the court said in its ruling.

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A spokesperson said the Home Office will ask for permission to appeal the ruling.

"The government's top priority remains maintaining our national security and keeping the public safe," the official said.

Begum's attorney Katie Lines, of the non-profit Liberty Human Rights, said the appeals court ruling ensures a fair trial.

"It is a fundamental part of our justice system and equal access to justice must apply to everyone," Lines said in a statement. "Banishing someone is the act of a government shirking its responsibilities and it's critical that cruel and irresponsible government decisions can be properly challenged and overturned."

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