LONDON - An Iranian opposition group on Tuesday called on the British government to remove the People's Mujahedeen militia from a list of terrorist organizations.
The Mujahedeen regard themselves as legitimate opposition to the hardline clerical regime in Tehran and claim that Britain, along with the European Union and the United States, classify them as terrorists to appease the Iranian government. British officials deny the allegation.
"This unjust designation is a grave breach of the principles of democracy and human rights," said Maryam Rajavi, co-leader of the group's political wing, the National Council of Resistance of Iran.
The council is backed by several British parliamentarians and lawyers, who gathered in London Tuesday calling for the proscription to be lifted.
Addressing the conference via video link from Paris, Rajavi accused Britain, France and Germany of using the Mujahedeen as a bargaining chip during negotiations with Iran over it nuclear program.
She said the so-called EU-3 had assured Tehran that the group would stay on the terrorist list, as long as Iran's suspension of uranium enrichment activities continued.
"The proscription of the People's Mujahedeen remains a blot on the democratic landscape," said lawyer Stephen Grosz, calling for the group to be removed from the list of individuals and organizations whose assets are frozen.
The People's Mujahedeen, or Mujahedeen Khalq as it is called in Farsi, participated in the 1979 ouster of the former shah of Iran, Mohammad Reza Pahlavi. But it fell out with the clerical government and launched a campaign of assassinations and bombings. For years it fought Iran's Islamic rulers from Iraq with the backing of Saddam Hussein's regime.
The group's military activities have calmed in recent years, and through the NCRI has tried to bolster its image.
Britain's Foreign Office on Tuesday denied that the status of the Mujahedeen was a negotiating chip between the EU-3 and Tehran. A spokesman said that given the group's violent campaign against the government in Tehran, there was nothing to suggest the terrorist label should be lifted.