Article 25 of the French Civil Code provides that an individual may be stripped of their French nationality where, inter alia, it was acquired by naturalization and where the individual has been convicted of a crime that constituted an attack on the fundamental interests of France or an act of terrorism. Deprivation of French nationality is not allowed where it would render the individual stateless. The applicant was deprived of his French nationality, which he had acquired by naturalization, following a decision of the Paris Criminal Court (Tribunal de Grande Instance de Paris) convicting him for his participation in an association of criminals with a view to preparing an act of terrorism. That court found that he had joined a terrorist group and participated in training and armed operations of that group. The Council of State (Conseil d’État) upheld the decree of deprivation of nationality because the applicant held Algerian nationality since birth and could not be deprived of it since the Algerian code of nationality only authorises the deprivation of nationality for persons who have acquired it after birth. Therefore, the loss of French nationality would not render him stateless and was thus not illegal under French law. The Council of State also ruled on the proportionality of the decree with regard to the European Convention on Human Rights and found that, given the seriousness of the crimes committed by the applicant, the challenged decree did not disproportionately infringe the right to respect for his private life guaranteed by Article 8 of the ECHR.
The applicant is from Western Sahara and identifies as a Sahrawi, a territory occupied by Morocco. Having fled to France, he argued that he should qualify as a stateless person even though his birth certificate indicates that he has Moroccan nationality. He argued that this matter should be referred to the CJEU for a preliminary ruling.
Five applicants of dual nationality, convicted in 2007 of participating in a criminal association in a terrorist context, were stripped of their French nationality in October 2015 by Prime Minister decrees. The Court held that the decision to forfeit the applicants’ French nationality did not have a disproportionate impact on their private lives and therefore was not in violation of Article 8 of the Convention.