British police on Tuesday charged a man arrested at London's Heathrow Airport a week ago with the unlawful imprisonment of two Western journalists in Syria.
Shajul Islam, 26, allegedly "unlawfully and injuriously imprisoned" photographers John Cantlie from Britain, and Jeroen Oerlemans from the Netherlands, between July 17 and 26.
Cantlie, who worked for the Sunday Times, said he was taken as a hostage by Islamist militant fighters in Syria for a week in July. Both, Cantlie and Oerlemans, said after their week-long ordeal that some of their captors spoke with British accents. The kidnap highlighted concerns that British Muslims might be slipping into Syria to join extremists.
A woman that was arrested at the same time on suspicion for terrorism has been released without charge.
Police had said that they were looking into whether the detainees were part of a bigger group.
The pair, both 26 years old, were arrested last week after arriving on a flight to Heathrow and taken to a police station in central London where they remained in custody.
Police did not disclose the nationality of the two suspects at that time. A spokesman declined to say whether these were the first arrests in Britain connected to events in Syria.
The police statement said they were both arrested “on suspicion of the commission, preparation or instigation of acts of terrorism.”
Police searched several residential addresses in east London in connection with the inquiry, which was continuing, the statement said.
Foreign Secretary William Hague, asked on BBC radio whether the arrests were evidence that there were people in Britain who wanted to join the fighting in Syria, said: “There is some evidence that yes, there are people who want to do that.”
“We would strongly advise them not to do so, and while I can’t comment at the moment in further detail on these cases, on the general subject, we are clearly very vigilant about this, about people either passing through the UK or British nationals who want to commit acts of violence anywhere.”
Hague said the government was advising British nationals in Syria to leave the country, and all others not to travel there.
“We don’t supply ourselves anything that could contribute to lethal action inside Syria and of course we don't want individuals to do that either,” he said.