On 27th July 2018, the UK suspended the provision of Mutual Legal Assistance (MLA) to the US in relation to the intended prosecution of Alexanda Amon Kotey and El Shafee el-Sheikh. Mr Kotey and Mr el-Sheikh are suspected to be members of ISIS who were responsible for the murders of numerous British and American journalists. Early last week, the UK Home Secretary, Sajid Javid, confirmed that, contrary to its usual policy, the UK would not be requesting assurances from the US that the two suspects would not face the death penalty if they are found guilty at trial. The Home Secretary explained that the UK government would be sharing intelligence with the US to ensure that the two men faced trial on terrorism charges in the US. However, by 27th July 2018, the process of working with the US authorities to send the suspects to the US for trial was suspended following political and legal backlash over the decision. The Home Office confirmed that the MLA process has been suspended because one of the family members of one of the suspects had requested that the process be paused so that a legal challenge can be bought against the decision not to seek assurances that the two suspects will not face the death penalty if found guilty in their US trial.
A Home Office spokesperson said: “we have agreed to a short-term pause. The government remains committed to bringing these people to justice and we are confident we have acted in full accordance with the law and within the government’s longstanding MLA policy.”