AHK is a political figure who has been actively working against Sadam Hussein’s government in Iraq, in collaboration with the US State. In 2007, he was refused naturalisation on the grounds of ‘good character’. The decision was based on closed evidence and his appeal was deemed unsuccessful in 2015.
AHK is born in Iraq and is a Shia Kurd who has been politically involved in the Iraqi opposition movement against Saddam Hussein for a decade. In this role, AHK worked with the US and, while still active in the opposition, sought asylum in the UK in 1998 and shortly after got granted indefinite leave to remain. As a British resident, AHK continued his work in the opposition movement and travelled worldwide in his political work with the Iraqi National Congress (INC) that was heavily funded by the US and supported by the CIA. Yet despite such close ties with Western interests, when AHK applied to become a British citizen in 2004, he got refused. In December 2007, AHK got his naturalisation application refused on the ground of ‘good character’. He had no criminal convictions and was open about his involvement with the INC for which he travelled extensively. AHK appealed on the ground that the decision was unfair and in breach of the right to a fair trial stipulated in Art 6 of the European Convention on Human Rights. AHK was seeking explanation for the reasons upon which his refusal to become a British citizen were based.
AHK believed that because he is a political figure and there are things in the public domain written about him, the refusal decision made by the Home Secretary might have been influenced by that, as he cannot have been negatively assessed due to his collaborations with either the INC or the US authorities. The Home Secretary negates that the decision to refuse AHK naturalisation was based on information available about him in the public domain. Instead, it was based on material that linked AHK to ‘Iranian elements hostile to British national interests’ (SIAC 2012, 2015). This evidence is however closed and unavailable to the public, the appellant and even to his lawyers.
AHK appealed on the basis that he did not get a fair opportunity to respond to the claims made by the Secretary of State and that the interests of the individual were not balanced against the interests of the State. Here the social stigma in the wider community upon being refused naturalisation and the consequences of it, are significant for AHK. While a refusal to get naturalised does not automatically exclude an individual from the UK (since they in most cases would have the Indefinite Leave to Remain), a person that is not a British citizen is more exposed to removal if the State finds ‘good cause’ for it. As we know, these decisions are made in highly secretive circumstances with minimal insights. It is therefore a worry that refusals for naturalisation such as in the case of AHK, make him more vulnerable to eventual exclusion from the UK.
AHK has a wife and a daughter who is a British citizen.