Turkey vows to return jihadists to countries that revoked their citizenship
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Turkey vows to return jihadists to countries that revoked their citizenship

Ankara says it will not accept the position that hundreds of IS prisoners should be tried in Turkey

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan speaks to the foreign media, in Istanbul, October 18, 2019. (Presidential Press Service via AP, Pool)
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan speaks to the foreign media, in Istanbul, October 18, 2019. (Presidential Press Service via AP, Pool)

ISTANBUL, Turkey — Turkey said Monday it would send jihadist prisoners back to their countries of origin, regardless of whether they had been stripped of citizenship.

Interior Minister Soleyman Soylu said Turkey had nearly 1,200 foreign members of the Islamic State terror group (IS) in custody, and had captured 287 during its recent operation in northern Syria.

“Of course, those that are in our hands, we will send them back to their countries,” he said, state news agency Anadolu reported.

“However, the world has devised a new method. They say ‘Let’s strip them of their citizenship… Let them be tried where they are.’

“It is impossible for us to accept this view… We will send Daesh (IS) members to their countries whether they strip them of their citizenship or not,” he added.

It remains unclear whether Turkey will be able to do so in practice.

Western countries have often refused to accept the repatriation of citizens who left to join IS in Syria, and have stripped many of their citizenship.

Although under the New York Convention of 1961, it is illegal to leave someone stateless, several countries, including Britain and France, have not ratified it, and recent cases have triggered prolonged legal battles.

Britain has stripped more than 100 people of their citizenship for allegedly joining jihadist groups abroad.

High-profile cases such as teenage IS recruit Shamima Begum, and another alleged recruit Jack Letts, have sparked court proceedings and fierce political debate in Britain.

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