Danish-Tunisian Adam Johansen has been deprived of his Danish citizenship and expelled to Tunisia for joining the so-called Islamic State in Syria, Danish TV2 reported.
In the autumn of 2013, Faroese-born Johansen travelled to Syria and stayed there for five months in order to 'make a difference', as as he himself put it. The Supreme Court, however, rejected this explanation as 'untrustworthy and unclear'. The sole purpose of the trip was to join Daesh and undergo weapons training, the court ruled.
The Supreme Court attached particular importance to the 'gravity and nature of the crimes' Johansen committed in a war zone in Syria after leaving behind family in Denmark of his own accord. If his family don't want to live in Tunisia, they can either visit him there or communicate by phone or the internet, the court ruled.
Previously, Johansen was sentenced to four years in prison by Frederiksberg Court, but was allowed to retain his Danish citizenship, a decision later upheld by Østre Landsret Court. The Danish Supreme Court, however, ruled that it was fully possible to revoke Johansen's Danish passport, as he still retained his Tunisian citizenship. By contrast, making the man stateless would violate the European Convention, the Supreme Court ruled.
Justice Minister Søren Pape Poulsen called the ruling a 'good day for Denmark'.
"Today's ruling shows that by turning your back on Denmark to fight for the Islamic State, you forfeit the right to your Danish citizenship. Even if you have a family in this country," Pape Poulsen told the newspaper Jyllands-Posten.
Peter Vedel Kessing, a senior researcher at the Institute of Human Rights, argued the decision indicated even harsher repercussions for Danish 'foreign fighters'.
"The ruling toughens the common practice and shows that even having a wife and a child in Denmark is not enough. Likewise, if you only have limited connection to your home country. The starting point is that as a foreign fighter, you lose your citizenship," Kessing explained to Jyllands-Posten.
So far, the Danish Supreme Court has heard only one similar case. In 2017, Danish-Turkish pizza maker Enes Ciftci became the first one to lose his Danish citizenship, despite being born and raised in Denmark. Apart from joining Daesh on two occasions, Ciftci also supported the terrorist organisation financially.
In related cases, the Supreme Court also withdrew the citizenship of Danish-Tunisian Said Mansour, colloquially known as 'Brønshøj Bookseller', who was sentenced for spreading al-Qaeda* propaganda. Unlike the other cases, Mansour wasn't born in Denmark.
Last year, the European Court of Human Rights ruled that European nations are allowed to legislate for recalling the citizenship of people suspected of sympathising with terrorist organisations, provided that it serves 'the legitimate objective of protecting the public from the terrorist threat'.
* Daesh (IS, ISIS, ISIL) and al-Qaeda are both terrorist organisations banned in Russia.