, France, Jan 14 – France’s top legal body said Tuesday it will deliver a ruling on January 23 on the legality of a decree stripping a convicted terror operative of his naturalised French citizenship.
The Constitutional Council on Tuesday began examining the case of Ahmed Sahnouni, a Moroccan naturalised by France in February 2003, and whose citizenship was revoked in May 2013 as he served a seven-year prison term for a conviction for terror activity.
The move comes a week after bloody attacks in France by jihadist gunmen that left 17 people dead.
After hearing arguments in Sahnouni’s legal challenge, the Council said it would render its decision on the constitutionality of the edict on January 23.
Born in Casablanca in 1970, Sahnouni was convicted in 2013 of having overseen recruitment networks of aspiring jihadists to Iraq, Afghanistan, Somalia, and the Sahel region of North Africa, raising funds for them and overseeing the operational coordination of volunteers once on the ground.
Acting on an article in French law allowing the revocation of naturalised citizenship of people convicted of terror crimes, French Prime Minister Manuel Valls and Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve signed Sahnouni’s revocation decree last year, only the eighth time the step has been taken since 1973.
Sahnouni’s lawyer Nurettin Meseci has challenged the constitutionality of the repeal on the grounds the law discriminates between citizens born French, and those whose nationality was obtained through naturalisation.
Because another French law bars the extradition of its nationals to foreign countries, Meseci charges the real motive for stripping Sahnouni’s French citizenship is to permit his extradition to Morocco, where he is likely to be convicted anew on the same charges.
Sahnouni has denied the accusations that led to his conviction, which was based on evidence French intelligence services discovered in a May 2010 raid on his suburban Paris apartment, including computers used for recruitment purposes, radical Islamist literature, and photos of Sahnouni in various jihadist combat zones.