Sajid Javid 'does not support the death penalty' amid 'Beatles' terror case

Monday, July 30, 2018

Home Secretary Sajid Javid has insisted he does not support the death penalty despite waiving demands for assurances over the fate of two Islamic State terror suspects facing possible extradition to the US.

Mr Javid faced intense criticism after agreeing to share intelligence with the US without seeking guarantees Alexanda Kotey and El Shafee Elsheikh would not face execution if they were extradited.

The Home Secretary agreed to a "short-term pause" of the mutual legal assistance (MLA) process with the US after a request from lawyers acting for one of the men, who are being held in Syria.

He told the Press Association: "Personally I don't support the death penalty but on this particular case it's in everyone's interests that those individuals are brought to justice in the most appropriate jurisdiction.

"Given, however, there may be some legal action over this it would be inappropriate for me to say anything further."

Kotey and Elsheikh are said to have been members of a brutal four-man cell of IS executioners in Syria and Iraq, responsible for killing a series of high-profile Western captives, including British aid workers David Haines and Alan Henning and US journalists James Foley and Steven Sotloff.

Nicknamed after the Beatles because of their British accents, the cell is also believed to have included Mohammed Emwazi - known as "Jihadi John" - who was killed in a US air strike in 2015, and Aine Davis, who has been jailed in Turkey.

Kotey and Elsheikh, who are understood to have been stripped of their British citizenship, were captured in January, sparking a row over whether they should be returned to the UK for trial or face justice in another jurisdiction.

Prime Minister Theresa May supported Mr Javid's original decision, which had also been backed by Boris Johnson when he was foreign secretary.

But the MLA sparked widespread criticism in Westminster from across the political divide.

A number of Tories raised concerns, with former attorney general Dominic Grieve warning the decision represented a "major departure from normal policy".