Fearing Donald Trump 'Outrage,' U.K. Dropped Death Penalty Objection for ISIS Suspects

The United Kingdom's Home Secretary Sajid Javid has decided to drop objections to the death penalty as a potential sentence for two ISIS suspects, fearing "political outrage" from the Trump administration, a lawyer has alleged in court.

Edward Fitzgerald represents Maha El Gizouli, the mother of El Shafee Elsheikh, who has brought the case against the British government's decision to provide evidence to U.S. prosecutors without such assurances. Elsheikh and Alexanda Kotey, two men raised in the U.K., were allegedly part of an ISIS cell responsible for beheading 27 American and British citizens, The Guardian reported on Monday.

In February, they were captured by Syrian Kurdish fighters and have been stripped of their British citizenship. Negotiations took place between the U.S. and the U.K. as to where they should be tried for the crimes, with a leaked letter revealing earlier this year that Javid had offered to provide the evidence against the men to U.S. prosecutors without assurances they would not face the death penalty.

Britain's Home Secretary Sajid Javid gives a speech on the third day of the Conservative Party Conference 2018 at the International Convention Centre in Birmingham, central England, on October 2. BEN STANSALL/AFP/Getty Images

El Gizouli's lawyer told the Lord Chief Justice, Lord Burnett, and Mr. Justice Garnham that the government's decision was "unprecedented and unjustified," according to The Independent. He pointed out that such a decision was a major departure from previous U.K. policy, also highlighting that executions in the U.S. are generally done by lethal injections that are "unreliable, tortuous and experimental."

"[Javid] took those steps in large part because of the anticipated outrage of certain political appointees in the Trump administration if the U.K. insisted on death penalty assurances," Fitzgerald argued, citing correspondence between Javid and other government officials.

"We submit that the anticipated outrage of those U.S. officials was not a proper consideration as a matter of law," he said.

The lawyer also pointed out that his client was not suggesting her son and Kotey, who have been dubbed "The Beatles," not face prosecution and justice for their alleged crimes. El Gizouli has brought the case specifically to address what is seen as the illegality of Javid's concession to the U.S. government.

"It's relevant that the families of the victims have said they want justice but not the death penalty," Fitzgerald also pointed out.

President Donald Trump listens to British Prime Minister Theresa May prior to a meeting at Chequers, the prime minister's country residence, near Ellesborough, northwest of London on July 13. Negotiations took place between the U.S. and the U.K. as to where ISIS suspects should be tried for the crimes. BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP/Getty Images

The U.K. abolished the death penalty back in 1965 and has since campaigned to pressure other nations to do the same. Under the previous British government, a new strategy was put forward in 2011 to increase the number of countries worldwide that have done away with capital punishment. However, the current government has not moved to update the strategy and has stated it does not have plans to do so.

According to data from the Death Penalty Information Center, the U.S. has executed 18 people so far this year and 23 in 2017. Globally, there were 993 executions last year in 23 countries, according to Amnesty International. The majority took place in China, Iran, Saudi Arabia, Iraq and Pakistan, respectively. In the Americas, the U.S. has been the only nation to carry out the death penalty for nine consecutive years.