New Zealand announced on Monday it would accept the return of a woman linked to the ISIL (ISIS) group and her two young children, after Australia revoked the former dual national’s citizenship last year.
The New Zealand-born woman – widely identified as Suhayra Aden – moved to Australia when she was six and lived there until she left for Syria in 2014.
She and her children have been in immigration detention in Turkey after they were caught earlier this year trying to enter the country from Syria. Turkish authorities requested that New Zealand repatriate the family.
“New Zealand has not taken this step lightly. We have taken into account our international responsibilities as well as the details of this particular case, including the fact that children are involved,” Ardern said in a statement after a cabinet meeting in Wellington.
Ardern said cancelling the 26-year-old’s citizenship would leave the family stateless.
“They are not Turkey’s responsibility, and with Australia refusing to accept the family, that makes them ours,” she said.
Revoking Aden’s citizenship last year, Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison said “terrorists who fought with terrorism organisations” forfeited their right to citizenship.
Ardern has previously criticised Canberra for “abdicating responsibility” in the case, and said “great care” was being taken to minimise any risk to New Zealanders.
Details about arrangements or timing to bring the family home will not be made public due to security reasons.
Turkish authorities have said that the woman was a member of ISIL (ISIS) and subject to an Interpol “blue notice”.
A “blue notice” is issued to collect additional information about a person’s identity, location or activities in relation to a crime.
“It has previously been made clear that any New Zealander who might be suspected of association with a terrorist group should expect to be investigated under New Zealand law, but that would be a matter for the police,” Ardern said.