Runaway schoolgirl Shamima Begum has appealed for sympathy from the British public, as her family say she has given birth to a baby boy.
A statement released by their lawyer said: “We, the family of Shamima Begum, have been informed that Shamima has given birth to her child, we understand that both she and the baby are in good health.
“As yet we have not had direct contact with Shamima, we are hoping to establish communications with her soon so that we can verify the above.”
The lawyer later confirmed: “It’s a boy.”
The 19-year-old was one of three schoolgirls, along with Kadiza Sultana and Amira Abase, from Bethnal Green Academy who left the UK to travel to Syria in February 2015.
In an interview with Sky News, Begum said: “I can’t live in this camp forever.”
Speaking with her newborn baby at her side, she said: “I feel a lot of people should have sympathy for me, for everything I’ve been through, you know I didn’t know what I was getting into when I left, I just was hoping that maybe for the sake of me and my child they let me come back.
“Because I can’t live in this camp forever. It’s not really possible.”
Asked to respond to comments that she could be potentially very dangerous if she returned, she said: “They don’t have any evidence against me doing anything dangerous, when I went to Syria I was just a housewife, the entire four years I stayed at home, took care of my husband, took care of my kids, I never did anything… I never made propaganda, I never encouraged people to come to Syria.
“They don’t really have proof that I did anything that is dangerous.”
She said she knew there would be restriction on her if she returned, but added that he child is her “biggest priority”.
Begum urged her family to keep trying to get her back to the UK, adding that no British consulate officials had met with her, only journalists.
The teenager earlier told The Times she wishes to bring up her baby in the UK, and her family have begged for her to be shown mercy and to be allowed to return to east London.
It comes as culture secretary Jeremy Wright told the BBC’s Andrew Marr show that Begum should be allowed to return to the UK, saying that Britain was “obliged” to take back its citizens.
“I think it’s clear that if you’re dealing with a British citizen who wants to return to this country – and they’re not a dual citizen, so their only citizenship is British citizenship – then we are obliged at some stage at least to take them back.
“That doesn’t mean that we can’t put in place the necessary security measures to monitor their activities and make sure that they are not misbehaving.
He continued: “I think what really matters is what happens instantly and urgently to her, because we do have to be concerned about the health of that baby, we do have to be concerned about her health too, but in the end, she will have to answer for her actions.
“So I think it’s right that if she’s able to come back to the UK that she does so, but if she does so, she will do it on the understanding that we can hold her to account for her behaviour thus far, and I think that’s the right way to do this.”
Begum, who has said she does not regret travelling to Islamic State-controlled Syria, said she understood she could face a police investigation if she manages to return.
Her comments have sparked fierce debate over whether IS supporters should be allowed to return to their home countries.
Wright did not address whether the government would help her to come back by sending British officials into the camp where she currently resides, but told Marr: “British citizens, who only have British citizenship, are entitled to come back to the UK. That’s a matter of international law.
“As a matter of international law too, and domestic law potentially, people also have to take responsibility for their actions, and she will be no exception to that”
“But as a matter of international law too, and domestic law potentially, people also have to take responsibility for their actions, and she will be no exception to that.”
His comments are at odds with his cabinet colleague Sajid Javid, who this week said he would “not hesitate” to block Begum’s return to the UK, or the return of Britons who travelled to join IS.
The Home Secretary wrote in The Sunday Times that many supporters of IS have returned to their home countries, adding: “The difficult challenge we now face is what we should do about those who are still seeking to return.
“As home secretary, my priority is to ensure the safety and security of this country — and I will not let anything jeopardise that.”
Justice Secretary David Gauke earlier said “we can’t make people stateless”.
Labour’s shadow chancellor John McDonnell told Marr that Begum’s case was one to be judged on individual merit.
He added it is important to recognise that she was a child when she left, but said the UK had to take a risk assessment and ensure safety checks were in place.