The UK is allowed to send evidence against an ISIS cell nicknamed “the Beatles” to US prosecutors after the Supreme Court on Wednesday ended a ban on transferring documents.
Britain’s Supreme Court lifted the bar on witness statements and intelligence papers in the cases against Alexanda Kotey and El Shafee Elsheikh, who are accused of killing and torture of western hostages in Syria. The US Department of Justice is seeking their extradition.
In March, the court ruled that data protection laws meant Britain could not provide material to the US or other countries in cases which could lead to a death penalty. That decision followed legal action brought by Elsheikh’s mother, Maha El Gizouli.
The ban on the transfer of the evidence was lifted after US President Donald Trump’s administration gave an assurance it would not seek the death penalty in the case of the two British suspects, who are accused of being part of the notorious ISIS murder cell.
Subsequently, the Supreme Court said it had released an order on Wednesday which formally ended El Gizouli's action and, with it, the legal prohibition.
"The order concludes the proceedings in the Supreme Court, which means that the stay or the stop on providing material to the US Government is removed," a court spokeswoman said.
There was no immediate response from Britain's Home Office.
US Attorney General William Barr last week said that prosecutors would not seek the death penalty against the men or carry out executions if they were imposed, an issue which had been a stumbling block for Britain handing over the captured militants.
Kotey and Elsheikh are being held by the US military in an unidentified overseas location, believed to be in Iraq, after they were captured in 2019, but Mr Barr said it was becoming untenable to continue to hold them.
The pair were members of a four-strong ISIS unit that was known as “the Beatles” because of their English accents.
They are alleged to have detained or killed western hostages, including journalists James Foley and Steven Sotloff and aid workers Kayla Mueller and Peter Kassig.
The Justice Department now wants Britain to turn over evidence it has on Kotey and Elsheikh to allow them to be tried in the US.
Mr Barr had said if Britain did not turn over the material by October 15, the US would turn over the men for prosecution in the Iraqi justice system.