Azad G. had made headlines several times: One year after his departure for Syria in 2013, he returned to his hometown Vienna to receive multiple outpatient treatment for a gunshot wound. During this leave from the front he collected 14 times 885.47 euros in minimum security. Then he went back to Syria.
After the case became known, the municipal department 35 wanted to deprive him of his Austrian citizenship. However, the Administrative Court of Vienna has now overturned the decision on April 20, as Beatrix Hornschall, the Vice President of the Administrative Court of Vienna, confirmed to “Wien heute”. For the revocation of Austrian citizenship would only be possible if dual citizenship is present.
The municipal department 35 had assumed that Azad G. was an Austrian-Turkish dual citizen. “We have our knowledge from the naturalisation files of that time”, was the statement of the municipal department 35 in February regarding the ongoing denial proceedings against several alleged IS fighters.
In the case of Azad G., “it was only during the appeal proceedings before the Vienna Administrative Court that the Embassy of the Republic of Turkey announced by way of legal assistance that the complainant was not a Turkish citizen. There is no evidence of any other citizenship. Since the complainant is thus only in possession of Austrian citizenship, this cannot be withdrawn from him according to the clear wording of Article 33(2) of the Citizenship Act, as this would render him stateless,” said Hornschall.According to the Foreign Ministry, the current “whereabouts of Azad G. are unknown”. He is said to have been captured by Kurdish soldiers. Last year a video came up saying, “I hope you realize I’m remorseful.”If he enters the country, Azad G. is facing arrest. The public prosecutor’s office has issued numerous arrest warrants against suspected IS fighters, according to the Ministry of the Interior. The Ministry of Justice only states that “the case has long been known to the Austrian prosecution authorities. Unfortunately, no further information can be provided at this stage of the procedure.
So far, the municipal department 35 has legally revoked the citizenship of four alleged IS fighters, the authority informed upon request. The men are now no longer allowed to enter Austria. Two proceedings are still pending before the Administrative Court. “The complainants were each instructed to remedy substantive deficiencies in the complaints,” said Hornschall. And furthermore, “the municipal department 35 is currently examining in ten further cases whether the conditions for a withdrawal of citizenship are met”, a spokesperson said.According to the 2018 report on the protection of the constitution, which was presented last year, the “number of jihad returnees from Austria has changed only marginally compared to 2017 – and there were fewer returnees than expected,” it said. According to the report on the protection of the constitution, 107 foreign terror fighters were still in the war zone at the end of 2018. The 2019 report on the protection of the constitution is not yet available.