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Reports: U.K. Will Not Block Death Penalty For IS Fighters


A composite file photo of captured British IS fighters El Shafee Elsheikh (left) and Alexanda Kotey.

The British government will not block the potential use of the death penalty in the case of two captured fighters of the extremist group Islamic State (IS) who could face trial in the United States, news reports say.

Alexanda Kotey and El Shafee Elsheikh are suspected of being the final two members of a IS foursome labelled "The Beatles" due to their British accents.

The two men, who were captured by Syrian Kurdish fighters in January, were reportedly wanted for allegedly imprisoning, torturing and killing hostages.

They were captured by Syrian Kurdish fighters in January.

Britain, which opposes the death penalty, has been in discussions with the United States about how and where the pair should face justice.

In a letter to the U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions that was seen by the Daily Telegraph, British Home Secretary Sajid Javid said London will not seek "assurances" that the pair will not be executed.

"I am of the view that there are strong reasons for not requiring a death penalty assurance in this specific case, so no such assurances will be sought," Javid wrote last month, according to a transcript of the letter published by the newspaper on July 23.

Amnesty International said the case "seriously jeopardizes the UK's position as a strong advocate for the abolition of the death penalty."

"At a time when the rest of the world is moving increasingly to abolition, this reported letter...marks a huge backward step," Amnesty International UK’s head of advocacy Allan Hogarth said.

A Home Office spokesman said the government would not comment on leaked documents.

Mohammed Emwazi, known as "Jihadi John" became the most notorious of the four after appearing in videos showing the murder of Western and Japanese journalists and aid workers.

He is believed to have been killed in a U.S.-British missile strike in 2015.

Based on reporting by the Daily Telegraph, dpa, Reuters and AP
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