AP: Supporters of an Iranian opposition group said Wednesday the European Union had failed to adequately explain why it refused to take the group off its list of terrorist organizations despite an EU court ruling. Associated Press
BRUSSELS, Belgium (AP) – Supporters of an Iranian opposition group said Wednesday the European Union had failed to adequately explain why it refused to take the group off its list of terrorist organizations despite an EU court ruling.
The EU’s refusal to remove the People’s Mujahadeen Organization of Iran from the list was “a political and ethical disgrace,” said Alejo Vidal-Quadras, vice president of the European Parliament.
“We have come across no evidence whatsoever which would justify maintaining the PMOI on the terrorist list,” the Spanish conservative told a news conference.
The group, which advocates the overthrow of the Iranian regime, is also on the U.S. State Department’s list of terrorist organizations. Former Iraqi President Saddam Hussein allowed the group to operate camps in Iraq from which it launched attacks inside Iran, although the group now says it has renounced military action and its militants in Iraq have handed weapons over to U.S.-led forces there.
The PMOI is seeking 1 million (US$1.35 million) in damages claiming the EU has refused to apply a court order last year that annulled a 2002 decision to place the organization on its terrorist blacklist and order its assets frozen.
The EU has argued that the court’s ruling focused on procedural problems and did not imply that the group had to be removed from the list. They claim the EU has complied with the judgment by supplying documents explaining its decision and allowing the PMOI to present counter arguments.
However, the group’s French lawyer said documents provided by the EU were inadequate, based on outdated material and failed to recognize that the organization has declared a halt to military action against the Iranian government.
“It’s a flagrant violation of the state of law in Europe,” Jean-Pierre Spitzer said of the EU’s refusal to remove the PMOI from the list.
Mohammad Mohaddessin, a spokesman for the PMOI’s political wing contended that the EU and the United States were maintaining the group on their terror lists to avoid further harming relations with the Iranian government.
He claimed the Iranian government had made the group’s continued blacklisting a condition for negotiations with the EU, most notably talks on the country’s nuclear program which are due to resume Thursday in Madrid.
The PMOI, which is also known as the Mujahedeen Khalq, or MEK, has been on the U.S. State Department’s list of terrorist organizations since 1997, a decision that bars anyone in the United States from providing material support.
The State Department says the MEK groups were funded by Saddam, supported the seizure of the U.S. Embassy in Tehran in 1979 and are responsible for the deaths of Americans in the 1970s.
Mohaddessin said his group would write to U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice formally requesting that the group and its affiliates be taken off the blacklist. He said that if she refuses, the organization’s lawyers would lodge a complaint at a Washington appeals court.