Lib Dems urge removal of British citizenship from wife of Bashar Assad

Updated: 

The wife of Syrian president Bashar Assad should be stripped of her British citizenship if she continues to publicly back her husband's brutal regime, the Liberal Democrats have demanded.

The party's foreign affairs spokesman Tom Brake said UK-born Asma Assad's vocal support for the man the Government has branded an "arch-terrorist" cannot be ignored.

Social media accounts in Mrs Assad's name have some 500,000 followers and are used as pro-regime tools.  

Mr Brake, who is writing to Home Secretary Amber Rudd on the matter, said: "The first lady of Syria has acted, not as a private citizen, but as a spokesperson for the Syrian presidency.

"This is a barbarous regime, yet Asma Assad has continued to use her international profile to defend it, even after the chemical weapons atrocity.

"Boris Johnson has urged other countries to do more about Syria, but the British government could say to Asma Assad, either stop using your position to defend barbaric acts, or be stripped of your citizenship.

"The Government is entitled to deprive someone of their citizenship if it is conducive to the public good because that person has prejudiced the interests of the United Kingdom.

"As the Assad regime has presided over a sickening civil war that has brought instability to the region and enabled terrorism to flourish, the justification seems clear.

"She enjoys dual nationality so would still remain a citizen of the country, and the regime, to which she is so publicly committed.

"If Asma continues defending the Assad regime's murderous actions, the onus will be on the UK Government to deprive her of her citizenship or demonstrate that her actions are not seriously prejudicial to the vital interests of the United Kingdom."

Mrs Assad was born to Syrian parents in the UK and worked as an investment banker before she married in 2000.