AP: Lawyers for an exiled Iranian resistance movement appealed to the European Union on Thursday, demanding the 27-nation bloc remove the Paris-based group from its blacklist of terror organizations. The Associated Press
BRUSSELS, Belgium (AP) – Lawyers for an exiled Iranian resistance movement appealed to the European Union on Thursday, demanding the 27-nation bloc remove the Paris-based group from its blacklist of terror organizations.
The People’s Mujahadeen of Iran had won a legal battle in the EU’s Court of Justice last year when the court annulled a 2002 decision to freeze all European assets of the group, known by the acronyms PMOI and MEK.
It was the first time an appeal to the EU’s terror list was successful at the EU court.
However, the EU’s Council of Ministers, which represents all 27 EU governments, has refused so far to remove the group from its list.
EU governments had asked the group to submit a legal reply to the ruling to state why it should not be on the list. The ruling had said EU governments failed to give the group a fair hearing.
A Jan. 30 meeting of EU finance ministers gave the group until March 1 “to present its views, together with any supporting documentation,” to prove why it should be removed.
“There can be no question of the Council being able to maintain the PMOI on the list,” said Mohammad Mohaddessin, a member of the National Council of Resistance of Iran an umbrella group that includes the PMOI. Several European Parliament lawmakers and national lawmakers have backed the group’s cause.
The letter submitted to EU legal experts and seen by The Associated Press said that keeping the group on the list was “unlawful” following the EU court’s decision. It argued that the decision to place the PMOI on the list was based “only on material available in March 2001, and not thereafter and cannot possibly be sufficient now to constitute a relevant decision” to keep the group listed and its assets frozen.
The EU’s legal team of experts at the Council has said it would study the reply before any final decision on the list, which includes groups and people like Osama bin Laden, Hamas and al-Qaida.
The list is regularly reviewed, usually every six months.
The legal counsel to the 27 EU governments, Jean-Claude Piris said in December that the judgment did not call into question the original decision that the Mujahadeen is a terrorist organization, but that the EU court annulled the decision because of procedure.
The U.S. also lists the group as a terrorist organization.
However, the PMOI, founded by students at Tehran University in the 1960s, insists it advocates the overthrow of Iran’s hard-line clerical regime in Tehran by peaceful means.
The list, set up after the terror attacks on Sept. 11, 2001, is done in secret by a special committee of security representatives from each member state.