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Alleged terrorist granted anonymity by UK Tribunal

Editorial Staff

A man who can be identified only as B4 left the UK to go to Syria to join al Qaeda, the UK government alleges. A citizen of Libya, he took UK citizenship in addition. The UK Home Department (part of the Home Office) decided to cancel his British citizenship and passport. He has appealed and, at the same time, applied for anonymity. His appeal is stayed pending a determination of his application for legal aid.

In the case of B4 -v- The Secretary of State for the Home Department, the SPECIAL IMMIGRATION APPEALS COMMISSION has ordered that a man who, it is alleged, is a supporter of Al Qaeda and travelled to Syria to join them is entitled to anonymity during proceedings to appeal against the cancellation of his British citizenship.

"The allegations made by the Secretary of State against B4 include that he travelled to Syria, aligned with Al Quaeda, fought there, and is a risk to national security," it says in the Commission's judgment.

B4's grounds of appeal are that he is a national of Libya and lives there now; conditions in Libya are unstable and violent; various armed groups compete for power; all sides use extreme levels of violence and some are opposed to Al Qaeda. One of his grounds of appeal is that the decision to deprive him of his British citizenship exposes him to a risk of ill treatment in Libya which would breach articles 2 and 3 of the European Convention on Human Rights (‘the ECHR’), and/or that it would breach the Secretary of State’s analogous policy about article 2 and article 3 risks.

B4's grounds for applying for an anonymity order are that it is necessary to protect him and his extended family, friends and supporters in Libya, from an increased risk of exposure to such ill treatment in Libya if his identity and the nature of his case were well known, to protect him (and his family, most of whom live in the United Kingdom) from a similar risk were he to return to the United Kingdom and/or were the case to be publicised here and to guard against any risk of jeopardising any future criminal trial.

"It is ordered that:

1. The Appellant be granted anonymity in relation to the conduct of proceedings in the Commission and be known in these proceedings as B4.

2. Nothing may be published which, directly or indirectly, identifies him as an appellant in these proceedings before the Commission.

3. There be liberty to apply on 48 hours’ written notice to the Commission, to the Appellant, to the Secretary of State and to the Legal Representatives (as defined in the Practice Note).

4. This order continues until the OPEN judgment has been handed down in this appeal, or further order in the meantime, unless the Appellant indicates to the Commission, as soon as the OPEN judgment is circulated in draft, that he intends to apply for it to continue after the OPEN judgment is handed down, and applies to the Commission, before that judgment is handed down, for directions for the determination of any such application."

Accordingly, no media may report on any matter, be it the legal aid application, his alleged involvement with a proscribed organisation and so on if such reporting would identify or tend to identify him, either directly or indirectly.

Commentary: such gag orders have in the past proved ineffective against foreign publications.

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