State Minister for Foreign Affairs Md Shahriar Alam has said BNP Acting Chairperson Tarique Rahman along with his wife and daughter handed over their passports to the British Home Office four years ago which indicates that they do not want Bangladesh nationality.
"Had he (Tarique) wanted renewal of passport or extension of validity, he would have handed it over to Bangladesh High Commission in the UK. But, he submitted it to the British Home Office. What does it mean? As a political person, I think, it's the refusal of nationality," Shahriar told reporters at his Gulshan residence in Dhaka on Monday.
Mentioning it was interesting that a convicted criminal sent him a legal notice, Shahriar said he was ready to face it legally as he had all the evidence regarding submission of passports by Tarique and his family.
"I welcome it," he said, adding that it was good to know that BNP got back confidence on the law of the land.
The state minister said the British Home Office with a forwarding letter had returned the passports of Tarique, his wife Zubaida Rahman and daughter to the Bangladesh High Commission on June 2, 2014. "Now, they have no travel documents to come to Bangladesh," he added.
Also Read- Tarique Rahman issues legal notice against State Minister Shahriar Alam
Replying to a question whether Tarique was now Bangladeshi, Shahriar said: "I think no."
The state minister invited interested BNP leaders to visit Bangladesh High Commission in London to verify the facts.
Responding to another question, Shahriar said Bangladeshi citizens living abroad must communicate with respective Bangladesh missions abroad for any renewal or extending validity of passport. "Here, it shows clearly that they handed over it to British Home Office."
Providing Tarique's passport details, he said Tarique with his passport – numbered C0974496 and issued on September 4, 2008 – got a six-month British visa on September 8, 2008 and entered the UK four days later.
While issuing the passport, it was mentioned that Tarique, the eldest son of BNP Chairperson Khaleda Zia, had an old passport (W0757424), which was issued on October 7, 2004, but lost it.
Also Read- Shahriar: Tarique surrendered Bangladesh nationality
The new passport was valid till June 3, 2010. Its validity was extended on December 10, 2008 for five more years (till September 3, 2013).
State Minister Shahriar said he collected all the information from the Bangladesh High Commission in London upon his arrival in the morning.
"I heard that they issued a legal notice. Even if they want to file a case, we will definitely face it," he said.
Addressing a reception hosted by the UK Awami League in honour of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina in London on Sunday, Shahriar had said Tarique, currently living in London, gave up his nationality by handing over his Bangladesh passport to the UK Home Office almost four years ago.
“So, how is he playing the role of BNP’s acting chairperson when he rejected Bangladesh nationality by surrendering his green passport?” he wondered.
Following his remarks, Tarique on Monday sent a legal notice to the state minister asking him to prove by 10 days his claim that Tarique has relinquished his nationality by submitting the Bangladeshi passport.
Also Read- Awami League urges Britain to send Tarique Rahman back
Or else, the BNP leader threatened to file both criminal and civil cases against Shahriar.
On behalf of Tarique, BNP’s Legal Affairs Secretary Kaiser Kamal sent the notice by post to the Foreign Ministry.
BNP also protested the state minister's comments and challenged the Bangladesh High Commission to show Tarique’s Bangladeshi passport if he submitted it.
Tarique, facing over dozen of cases in Bangladesh, was sentenced to seven years' imprisonment and fined Tk20 crore by the High Court in a money laundering case in 2016.
He was also convicted along with his mother Khaleda Zia in the Zia Orphanage Trust corruption case and sentenced to 10 years' rigorous imprisonment and fined Tk2.1 crore.
Tarique went to London in 2008 after securing bail in a number of corruption cases during the 1/11 changeover.
He lives in a house in Kingston area of London with his family.