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Swiss revoke citizenship from dual-national Islamic State recruiter

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By John Miller

ZURICH (Reuters) – Switzerland has revoked the citizenship of a man convicted of helping recruit jihadist fighters, invoking a law allowing dual nationals to be stripped of their Swiss passports for conduct detrimental to national interests or reputation.

Though the Swiss federal immigration office said this was the first time it had made such a move under the 66-year-old law, other Western nations have also stripped citizenship of people linked to extremist violence in the Middle East.

Last year, Australia revoked the nationality of an Islamic State (IS) recruiter, despite some concerns the move would leave him stateless, while Britain in February stripped a 19-year-old teenager of citizenship on security grounds.

The Swiss office did not release the other nationality of the man, who is in prison after receiving a multiple-year sentence for crimes including membership in a terrorist organisation, spreading IS propaganda and seeking to convince fighters to participate in jihadist violence in the Middle East.

The man, likely to be expelled from Switzerland after his eventual release from prison, still has the opportunity to appeal, the immigration office said, without identifying him.

After someone’s citizenship has been withdrawn, Switzerland can deny entry to them if deemed a security threat.

The Swiss government has had several cases in which it proposed revoking citizenship from those with multiple nationalities, including a 19-year-old Swiss-Italian man it identified in 2016 as having been a suspected IS jihadist.

In that case, Swiss authorities suspended proceedings after concluding the man, Christian Ianniello, had likely died after travelling from the city of Winterthur to Syria to join the group in 2015.

Switzerland revoked dozens of passports for security reasons during World War II and the years thereafter, but this is the first time it has done so based on the citizenship law effective since 1953.

(Reporting by John Miller; Editing by Andrew Cawthorne)

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