Pictured: Sally Letts and husband John outside St Paul’s Cathedral
The parents of the Muslim convert known as ‘Jihadi Jack’ say they are embarking on a hunger strike in protest of the government’s inaction to help their 21-year-old son.
John Letts, 56, and Sally Lane, 54, began their week-long fast on the steps of St Paul’s Cathedral in central London at 1pm on Thursday.
They say it is a demonstration against parliament’s failure to help bring their son home.
Jack Letts, 21, disappeared to Syria after converting to Islam, earning him the name ‘Jihadi Jack’.
He denies joining the terror group ISIS but has previously said he wanted to return to the UK to ‘explain some things’ to his family’.
His parents are awaiting trial for funding terrorism by sending cash to their son – charges which they deny.
In June Jack was said to have fled Raqqa to Kurdish controlled territory where he was being held captive by local forces.
The couple claim their son has ‘disappeared’ in Kurdish-controlled northern Syria and been imprisoned at a Guantanamo-style ‘black site’ in Rojava with no contact from the outside world since July 8.
This week Syrian Democratic Forces captured the former capital of the Islamic State so-called caliphate, Raqqa.
John Letts, 56, and Sally Lane, 54, are still awaiting trial for funding terrorism by sending cash to their son – charges which they deny.
Mrs Letts said her son had been dubbed a jihadi on the ‘assumption that everyone who goes to Syria must be a terrorist’.
She added: ‘He is being held under false suspicion. Held indefinitely without charge, he has not been given a lawyer and has no opportunity to defend himself.
‘After trying to leave Syria for almost two years, he finally escaped in May 2017, and was intercepted by the Kurdish YPG forces while fleeing to the Turkish border.
Mrs Letts said her son (pictured above) had been dubbed a jihadi on the ‘assumption that everyone who goes to Syria must be a terrorist’
‘He has had no access to family, to welfare visits from the Red Cross or any other organisation, nor consular assistance, in a clear breach of the Geneva Convention.’
Jack was suspected of being the first white Briton to join the terror group known as ISIS, after he left his Oxford home and travelled to the war-ravaged country last year.
He was said to have keen on sports before becoming interested in the Middle East in 2011 during the Arab Spring uprisings.
The 21-year-old converted to Islam and travelled to Kuwait in the summer of 2014 to learn Arabic before reportedly moving on to Syria.
Mr Letts, an organic farmer and baker, said: ‘During our last conversation with Jack on July 8, he told us that he had been held for two months in solitary confinement with ‘only my brain for company’.
John Letts, 56, and Sally Lane, 54, are still awaiting trial for funding terrorism by sending cash to their son – charges which they deny
‘He was not allowed to leave his cell at all and was being inadequately fed.. Jack also said that humanity had forgotten about him and he feared he was losing his mind.
He added: ‘Despite our pleas, the British government has refused to engage with the Kurdish authorities in trying to secure Jack’s release.
‘They state there is no consular assistance in Rojava and that this self-declared autonomous region is not recognised by any foreign government.
‘They also state that they advise against all travel to Syria, as this absolves them of any responsibility for any British national who fails to follow their advice.
‘The British government has a duty to protect its citizens. We believe the government’s policy of preventing anyone who went to Syria from returning to the UK is short-sighted and ultimately counter-productive.’
The pair set up a petition on Monday rallying support for his return.
A Facebook group, also set up by his parents, called ‘Free Jack Letts’ is campaigning for his release.
It states Jack Letts went to Syria in 2014 for ‘religious and humanitarian reasons’ and ‘was never a member of ISIS’.
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