State Minister for Foreign Affairs M Shahriar Alam today said BNP acting chairman 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 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," he told reporters at his Gulshan residence.
Mentioning that this is interesting that a convicted criminal has sent him a legal notice, Shahriar said he is ready to face it legally as he has all the evidence regarding submission of passport.
"I welcome it. I'm ready to face it," he said, adding that it is good to know that BNP got back confidence on the law of the land.
The state minister said the passports of Tarique, his wife and daughter were returned to the High Commission on June 2, 2014, through the British Home Office. "Now, they've no travel documents to come to Bangladesh," he added.
Replying to a question whether Tarique is 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.
"On June 2, 2014, the British Home Office with a forwarding letter handed over passports of Tarique Rahman, his wife and daughter as they surrendered it to Home Office," he said.
Responding to a 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, the state minister said Tarique bearing passport number C0974496 (issued on September 4, 2008) got a six-month UK visa on September 8, 2008 and he entered the UK on September 12, 2008.
While issuing the passport, it was mentioned that Tarique had an old passport (W0757424) which was issued on October 7, 2004, but lost.
The new passport's validity was until June 3, 2010, and the validity of his passport was extended for five years (until September 3, 2013) on December 10, 2008.
The state minister 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 case, we'll definitely face it," Shahriar said.
While addressing a reception hosted by the UK Awami League in honour of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina in London on Sunday, Shahriar had said Tarique, living in London, gave up his nationality by handing over his Bangladesh passport to the UK Home Office almost four years ago.
The UK Home Office sent his passport to the Bangladesh High Commission, he added.
Earlier in the day, Tarique sent a legal notice to Shahriar asking him to prove by 10 days his remark that he has relinquished his nationality by submitting Bangladeshi passport.
Or else, the BNP leader threatened to file both criminal and civil cases against Shahriar Alam.
On behalf of Tarique, BNP law affairs secretary Barrister Kaiser Kamal sent the notice by post to the Foreign Ministry's address.
BNP also protested the state minister's comment and challenged the Bangladesh High Commission to show Tarique Rahman's Bangladeshi passport if he submitted it.
Tarique Rahman, facing over a dozen of cases, was sentenced to seven years' imprisonment and fined Tk 20 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 where he was sentenced to 10 years' rigorous imprisonment and fined Tk 2.10 crore.