Presumed jihadist could have Swiss nationality quashed

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Presumed jihadist could have Swiss nationality quashed
File photo: Martin Abegglen

A Swiss-Italian teenager suspected of joining terrorists in Syria could have his Swiss nationality withdrawn in what would be the first such case in Switzerland.


According to Swiss-German broadcaster SRF the State Secretariat for Migrations (SEM) is considering the drastic action against a 19-year-old who travelled to Syria to join Isis.

As per procedure, the teenager has one month to defend himself before the SEM takes its final decision based on consultation with federal intelligence services.

If it does withdraw the man’s Swiss passport, it will be the first instance the federal government has applied a law that came into effect in 1953.

According to the law, a person who holds double nationality can have his or her Swiss passport removed if “his behaviour is a serious threat to Swiss interests or reputation”.

Speaking to daily 20 Minuten, Lea Wertheimer, spokeswoman for the SEM, said that the man could also be banned from setting foot on Swiss soil, a measure which must be decided by the federal police.

According to 20 Minuten the 19-year-old in question is thought to have left his home in Winterthur, in the canton of Zurich, for Syria in February 2015.

He subsequently posted shocking images on the internet, one showing him holding a severed head after a presumed decapitation and another in which he wore combat gear and held a Kalashnikov.   

“We are talking about atrocities, human rights violations and war crimes that have been committed and – which is an important point – pose a threat to Switzerland,” Wertheimer told SRF.

However the measure should only be applied as a "last resort", she added to 20 Minuten.

"The deprivation of citizenship is for the person concerned so severe that a very careful weighing of the interests of individuals and the security of the country is necessary," Wertheimer told the paper.

However according to information received by SRF, it’s possible that the man has already been killed in an air strike on the northern Syrian city of Kobanî.

According to 20 Minuten friends of the teenager said he was "fun loving and friendly" before being converted to radical Islam.


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