British-Canadian Jack Letts, nicknamed “Jihadi Jack” by the British media, has been stripped of his British citizenship, leaving him with only Canadian citizenship.
John Letts confirmed to Global News’ Roy Green that his son’s British citizenship has been revoked.
A spokesman for Minister of Public Safety Ralph Goodale said in a statement the government is aware of the U.K.’s decision.
Read More: Canada closes its embassy in Venezuela
“Terrorism knows no borders so countries need to work together to keep each other safe. Canada is disappointed that the United Kingdom has taken this unilateral action to offload their responsibilities,” the statement read.
“Investigating, arresting, charging and prosecuting any Canadian involved in terrorism or violent extremism is our primary objective. They must be held accountable for their actions.”
A statement from the U.K.’s Home Office said revoking British citizenship is one way it counters terrorist threats. It said it does not comment on individual cases.
“Decisions on depriving a dual national of citizenship are based on substantial advice from officials, lawyers and the intelligence agencies and all available information,” the U.K. Home Office statement said.
Letts joined ISIS as a teenager and is currently being held in a Kurdish-run jail in northern Syria.
A Muslim convert, Letts was a U.K. citizen who also holds Canadian citizenship through his father. In 2014, he travelled to Syria, where he was captured by Kurdish forces.
The statement from Goodale’s office acknowledged that the Canadian government is “aware of some Canadian citizens currently detained in Syria.”
“There is no legal obligation to facilitate their return,” the statement read. “We will not expose our consular officials to undue risk in this dangerous part of the world.”
It also noted that Goodale’s office is “not able to comment on specific cases or national security operational matters.”
The Mail on Sunday story claimed the U.K.’s decision had ignited a diplomatic spat with Canada — a characterization that the Canadian government contests.
Letts’ Oxford, U.K.-based parents made headlines earlier this summer when a British court convicted them of funding terrorism.
John Letts and Sally Lane were found guilty of sending their son £223 (C$348) in September 2015. Police had reportedly warned them not to do so. The couple received suspended sentences of 12 months.
John Letts wrote a letter to Canadian MPs last year that said his son is not a terrorist and deserves Canada’s protection. In his letter, Letts wrote that the money was to pay “people smugglers,” which he described as his son’s “only way out” of Syria.
Letts’ citizenship was reportedly revoked under Theresa May, who resigned as prime minister on July 24.
Under international law, countries cannot revoke a person’s citizenship if doing so renders them stateless.
A controversial 2015 amendment to the Citizenship Act meant that the Canadian government once had the power to revoke citizenship specifically from dual nationals convicted of spying, treason or terrorism offences. The Liberals repealed this amendment in 2017.
Former U.K. defence minister Tobias Ellwood addressed dual nationalities of ISIS fighters on Twitter Sunday, saying that conflicts have “changed but international laws have not been updated.”
“If (we) are to stay safe and prevent ISIS 2.0 we must work with our allies and think more strategically than simply removing UK citizenship from radicalised dual nationals,” he tweeted.
Pierre Poilievre, the Conservative MP for Carleton, addressed the U.K.’s decision in Ottawa on Sunday.
“Frankly, we think that he (Letts) is responsible for his own actions and it is not the job of the Canadian government to come to his rescue,” he told reporters.