Counter-terrorism

Exclusive: Terror suspect Mahdi Hashi loses appeal for return of his British citizenship

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Mahdi Hashi

A terror suspect who was stripped of his British citizenship on the grounds of national security lost his appeal yesterday against the Home Secretary’s decision.

Mahdi Hashi had his British citizenship stripped in 2012, but had appealed to the Special Immigration Appeals Commission (Siac) saying Theresa May’s order had left him stateless. However, the court ruled yesterday against his appeal, saying he could still potentially acquire a Somali passport.

Somali-born Hashi, 25, is currently in solitary confinement in a New York jail where he is due to be tried on alleged terrorism offences next month.

Yesterday’s decision, which will be appealed by his lawyers, is the latest development in a complex case.

Hashi had been granted British nationality after he left Somalia with his family in 1995. Hashi grew up in Camden, north London, and worked as a carer.

But it was while he was back in Somalia in June 2012 that he was served with an order from Theresa May removing his UK citizenship.

The order said: “The Security Service assess that you have been involved in Islamicist extremism [sic] and present a risk to the national security of the United Kingdom due to your extremist activities.”

Because he was abroad at the time of the order, he originally had 28 days to lodge an appeal, which he did not do.

His lawyers have been arguing for two years that the time limit should be extended in this case.

His barrister Baroness Helena Kennedy QC has also argued that he was rendered stateless by the Home Secretary’s decision, saying he lost his Somali nationality when he gained British citizenship aged 14.

It used to be unlawful to remove an individual’s British citizenship where doing so left them stateless.

However, under an amendment to the British Nationality Act last summer it is now legal to deprive a foreign-born individual of their British citizenship even when they would be left stateless. The law is not retrospective and there are no known cases to have been brought since it changed.

However, the court ruled yesterday that arguments on statelessness in Hashi’s case were “highly uncertain” and he “cannot demonstrate that he has a strong case”.

It concluded that Hashi is “likely” to be able to get a Somali passport.

It also rejected his lawyers’ arguments that he did not have enough time to lodge an appeal in 2012. It said he had been aware of the decision but that he had been “indifferent” to it.

Shortly after he was served with the order in 2012, Hashi was arrested in Djibouti.

In US court documents filed by his American attorney Mark Demarco, it is stated that Hashi was then detained “in a secret Djiboutian facility under extremely harsh conditions” and subjected to “illegal interrogation” by US intelligence officials.

He was then rendered to New York, where he was held in secret for five weeks before the charges against him were made public.

He has been held in solitary confinement in New York for more than two years, conditions which Siac yesterday accepted have “inhibited communication with his English lawyers”.

Jury selection for his US case is due to begin next month.

He is accused with two other men of being a member of al Shabaab. He denies the charges.

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