UK 'abandons opposition to execution of IS suspects'

UK 'abandons opposition to execution of IS suspects'
A leaked letter from the UK's home secretary has angered rights groups as it appears that Britain will not seek a death penalty assurance for two former citizens.
2 min read
23 July, 2018
Sajid Javid reportedly said the UK would not demand a 'death penalty assurance' [Getty]

Rights groups have slammed the UK government following a a significant departure from its stance on the death penalty with regards to a case involving former UK citizens Alexanda Kotey and El Shafee Elsheikh.

The pair are alleged to have been part of a four-man Islamic State group cell dubbed the 'beatles' due to their British origins.

It was revealed by The Telegraph on Monday that British Home Secretary, Sajid Javid, told US attorney general, Jeff Sessions, that Britain would not be requesting a "death penalty assurance" for the two men.

In the leaked letter written by Javid, it was confirmed that UK Prime Minister Theresa May was aware of the controversial decision, which is seen as a shift away from the UK's 'blanket opposition' to capital punishment.

"This is a deeply worrying development," said Amnesty International's UK spokesman Allan Hogarth. "The Home Secretary must unequivocally insist that Britain's longstanding position on the death penalty has not changed and seek cast iron assurances from the US that it will not be used."

The decision was described as "extraordinary" by Lord Carlile, a former reviewer of government anti-terror legislation.

The UK Home Office has refused to comment on the leaked letter. 

After Kotey and Elsheikh and were captured in January in Syria, they were stripped of their UK citizenships and made stateless.

Fellow 'beatle' Mohammed Emwazi, also known as 'Jihadi John,' was killed in a US airstrike in 2015. Aine Davis, another member of the group, was found guily of terror offences and sentenced to seven and a half years by a Turkish court last year. 

According to other documents obtained by The Telegraph, British officials have reportedly concluded that the two detainees may be sent to Guantanamo Bay without trial.

According tot he report, such a move would not be opposed by London.