Alleged Russian agent loses appeal over removal of UK citizenship

By Thomson Reuters May 17, 2024 | 5:35 AM

LONDON (Reuters) – An Afghan-born man, whose British citizenship was removed after he was accused of being a Russian intelligence agent, lost his appeal on Friday to restore his citizenship at a London tribunal.

The man, who says he worked for Britain’s Foreign Office and security agency GCHQ, had his citizenship revoked in 2019 after Britain assessed he was an agent for Russia’s military intelligence service, known by the Russian acronym GRU.

He said that, when he worked for Britain in Afghanistan in the late 2000s, he frequently accompanied high-level officials and royalty, including the future King Charles and then-prime minister David Cameron who is now foreign minister.

Government lawyers alleged at a hearing in February that the man, whose identity is protected and was referred to only as C2, had been trained to be a Russian agent since he was a child, something he vehemently denied.

C2’s lawyers asked the Special Immigration Appeals Commission (SIAC) – which hears appeals against decisions to remove citizenship on national security grounds – to rule that he was not a GRU agent.

But SIAC rejected C2’s appeal on Friday, stating in a written ruling that British officials’ “assessment, on advice, that C2 was an agent of the GRU as at September 2019 is amply justified”.

C2’s lawyer, Shirin Marker, said in a statement: “C2 is deeply disappointed with the judgment. He has attempted at all times to provide a full and transparent account of his life, in the face of appeal proceedings in which he has been given the barest of detail about the allegations against him.

“To date, he still does not understand the basis for these allegations and he disputes their substance. He is considering his legal options going forwards.”

(Reporting by Sam Tobin; Editing by Nick Macfie)