Wall Street Journal: Europe's second-highest court ruled the European Union wrongly blacklisted an Iranian opposition group, adding fuel to accusations that the bloc has used its terrorist list to appease the Iranian government.
The Wall Street Journal
Bloc Told to Remove Opposition Group From Blacklist
By MARC CHAMPION
Europe's second-highest court ruled the European Union wrongly blacklisted an Iranian opposition group, adding fuel to accusations that the bloc has used its terrorist list to appease the Iranian government.
The ruling was the second issued by the European Court of First Instance in Luxembourg since 2006 ordering the EU to unfreeze the People's Mujahedin Organization of Iran's assets and remove it from the EU list of terrorist groups. The U.S. also designates the PMOI as a terrorist organization.
The PMOI's court victories and the EU's avoidance of those rulings have put the bloc on the defensive. A group of prominent European lawyers attacked the EU over the issue last month, accusing it of abusing the law for political ends.
"If the [European Union] continue to defy this verdict, it will clearly show that from the very first this listing was the result of a deal with the mullahs' regime, and not based on fact," said Maryam Rajavi, who heads the Paris-based National Council for Resistance in Iran, the PMOI's political wing.
EU spokesmen have said repeatedly that they have sufficient evidence to justify the listing and deny abusing due process. The EU's next review of its terrorist list is due by the end of the year.
The PMOI is a group with Marxist roots formed in 1965 to depose the Shah of Iran. After the 1979 Iranian revolution, the group turned against the clerical regime, carrying out numerous terrorist attacks. The PMOI renounced violence in 2001, and no attack has been tied to it since. The EU added the group to its terrorist blacklist in 2002.
Iran has made the PMOI's international terrorist designation a diplomatic priority. Europe has been leading negotiations with Iran to persuade it to give up its nuclear-fuel program since 2003. Delisting the PMOI could make Iran still more intransigent in those talks, analysts say.
In Thursday's ruling, the court found the EU was wrong to keep the PMOI listed as a terrorist organization in December based on evidence provided by the U.K. because a top English court had ruled the British listing of PMOI was "perverse."
Since December, the U.K. lost a final appeal and was forced to take the group off its terrorist list. It also withdrew its sponsorship of the EU listing. France took the U.K.'s place in July, claiming new evidence, allowing the EU to keep the group on the list with a fresh decision. The PMOI has filed a new case in the Court of First Instance, which is still pending, to challenge that July decision.