jeudi 20 février 2020

The parents treated as terrorists for trying to save their son

Les parents traités de terroristes pour avoir tenté de sauver leur fils

When Jack Letts, 18, went to Islamic State-controlled Syria in 2014, his parents thought police wanted to help them get him home. They were wrong

From outside, the entrance looked unpromising: a nondescript grey door tucked behind a supermarket and a mosque on a traffic-choked high street in east London. But inside the welcome could not have been warmer.

For Sally Lane and John Letts, the journey of a few hours from their home in Oxford was as nothing compared to the months of parental angst they had endured since learning that their teenage son, Jack Letts, had travelled, as his mother wrote to a friend, to the “worst possible place”.

And now finally, they felt, they had found the man they had been looking for.

“They were so friendly. They kept hugging us,” Letts told Middle East Eye.

Letts and Lane speak with simmering bemusement that occasionally swells into teary-eyed anger as they describe how their lives have unravelled since that first meeting on 4 November 2015.

“They told us, 'You are a part of our family,'” said Lane. “I honestly thought they were the answer to all our problems."

Lane, 57 with shoulder-length blonde hair, has a sharp memory for the details of the case which she recalls with a precision perhaps honed in her former career as a literary editor. She is wearing the same colourful patterned scarf that she wore when the couple appeared at London's Old Bailey court to face terrorism charges in January 2017.

Letts, 59, with grown-out greying stubble and black-framed glasses, has the look of an unkempt university professor after a morning on the allotment.

His Canadian accent remains untamed by his decades in the UK since he took a job at the University Museum of Natural History in Oxford during the early 1990s. There, he built a career as an archaeological botanist and, more lately, as a farmer and purveyor of heritage grains and sourdough bread.

The couple originally met in Canada but Oxford has been their home ever since, with Jack, the eldest of their two s...

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