The then-backbencher said MPs should not make “value judgments” about those fighting in Syria
JEREMY CORBYN and his top team voted against stripping ISIS fighters of their citizenship – and opposed new laws that would make “judgments” on those returning to Britain.
In 2014 the then-backbencher said those who show their support for the terror group should not be prosecuted, because expressing a political viewpoint is not a crime.
In a parliamentary debate on temporary control orders on citizens returning from abroad, Mr Corbyn warned against a “knee-jerk reaction” to dealing with ISIS fighters.
The now Labour leader said that all anti-terror legislation “is an attempt to give greater and greater executive powers to the Home Secretary”.
Mr Corbyn said he was “deeply concerned” about stripping British nationals of their citizenship – especially if there was evidence they had sympathy for extremists, but didn’t commit a specific crime.
What did Jeremy Corbyn say about fighters coming back to Britain?
I hope the Home Secretary understands that a great many of us are deeply concerned about the principle of dealing with British nationals in this way, as we would be in relation to any other country. We are concerned about the long-term consequences: about what such treatment does to those people, and about the increased radicalisation of others. My hon. Friend the Member for Hayes and Harlington (John McDonnell) talked about that.
I have encountered young people who have been attracted to what ISIS is doing. They say that what the West did in Iraq and Afghanistan was appalling, and was questionably legal in the case of Afghanistan and definitely illegal in the case of Iraq. We are living with the consequences of the war on terror of 2001, and if we continue to try to create legal obstacles and make value judgments about people without considering the overall policy we are following, we will return to legislation such as this again and again, year after year.
I have no support for ISIS whatsoever, and obviously that should apply to someone who has committed crimes, but we should bear in mind that expressing a political point of view is not in itself an offence. The commission of a criminal act is clearly a different matter, but expressing a point of view, even an unpalatable one, is sometimes quite important in a democracy. We should be slightly cautious about announcing that we will start to deal with people on the basis of a general view that they have expressed. We should think seriously about where our foreign policy has brought us, and what our legislative position now is.
He also admitted speaking to people who had been “attracted to what ISIS is doing”.
“I have no support for ISIS whatsoever,” he said. “And obviously that should apply to someone who has committed crimes, but we should bear in mind that expressing a political point of a view is not in itself an offence.
He added: “The commission of a criminal act is clearly a different matter, but expressing a point of view, even an unpalatable one, is sometimes quite important in a democracy. We should be slightly cautious about announcing that we will start to deal with people on the basis of a general view that they have expressed.
“We should think seriously about where our foreign policy has brought us, and what our legislative position now is.”
The MP for Islington North urged the then-Home Secretary Theresa May to not take further action in this way for fighters re-entering Britain.
Approximately 850 people from the UK have travelled to support or fight for jihadist organisations in Syria and Iraq, authorities say.
About half have since returned to the UK – and 101 have been convicted for offences relating to Syria or Iraq.
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Mr Corbyn, along with his Shadow Home Secretary Diane Abbott, and Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell, all voted against the legislation in 2014.
It expanded powers to strip Brits of their citizenship if the Home Secretary was “satisfied that the deprivation is conducive to the public good because the person, while having that citizenship status, has conducted him or herself in a manner which is seriously prejudicial to the vital interests of the United Kingdom”.
Previously a citizen could only be stripped of it if they held dual nationality – so they wouldn’t become stateless.
“What the west did in Iraq and Afghanistan was appalling… we are living with the consequences of the war on terror of 2001,” he said.
“If we continue to try to create legal obstacles and make value judgements about people without considering the overall policy we are following, we will return to legislation such as this again and again, year after year.
He went on: “I feel that we should think about this rather more carefully and avoid the knee-jerk reaction of saying, ‘These are bad fighters and those are good fighters, so we will ban these and allow those in.’”
The remarks emerge just days after The Sun revealed that Mr Corbyn faced serious questions on tackling terror after he boasted about trying to block every new security law for 34 years.
Research by The Sun also reveals the hard left Labour leader voted against all 17 different new laws passed on terrorism since becoming an MP in 1983.