Bloomberg: The People's Mujahedeen of Iran won a European Union court challenge to the placement of the Iranian resistance group on an EU list of terrorist organizations, boosting its chances of having its funds permanently unfrozen.
By Stephanie Bodoni
Dec. 4 (Bloomberg) — The People's Mujahedeen of Iran won a European Union court challenge to the placement of the Iranian resistance group on an EU list of terrorist organizations, boosting its chances of having its funds permanently unfrozen.
The EU didn't give the group an opportunity for a proper defense because it failed to turn over information used to justify keeping the People's Mujahedeen on the terror list, the European Court of First Instance in Luxembourg said today. The ruling overturned a July decision that froze the group's funds.
The People's Mujahedeen was formed in 1965 to resist the Iranian Shah. The group said its 2002 inclusion on the EU list was meant to appease the Iranian government as part of efforts to dissuade Iran from developing nuclear weapons. The group, which said it disarmed in 2003, is also considered a terrorist organization by the U.S.
"Justice finally triumphed," Maryam Rajavi, the president- elect of the National Council of Resistance of Iran, the political arm of the People's Mujahedeen, said in a statement. "I urge European leaders not to allow those with vested commercial interests to take hostage the credibility of the European Union by defying the rule of law."
The court's ruling today comes a day after a hearing in the case, the quickest it has ever ruled on a case, pinpointing the urgency of clarifying the situation before the expected renewal of the EU list this month. Court rulings normally come about six months to a year after a hearing.
European Commission spokeswoman Christiane Hohmann told journalists in Brussels that the EU would study the ruling. The ruling can be appealed to the European Court of Justice.
The group has been successful in two separate appeals, once in 2006 and again this year, over previous versions of the list.
The EU's decision to maintain the group on the list again in July, without first informing it of the new information it had received, prevented the People's Mujahedeen "from effectively making known its view on the matter before the decision was adopted," which breached its rights of defense, the court said today.
The EU had wrongly used information stemming from a judicial enquiry started in France in 2001 as a basis for this year's inclusion of the group on the list, the court said.
That information pointed to potential members of the group, without identifying the group itself, and the EU "failed to explain the specific reasons as to why the acts ascribed to the persons alleged to be members of the PMOI should be attributed to the PMOI," the court ruled.
Ali Safavi, a member of the National Council of Resistance of Iran, said in an interview after the ruling that this last finding by the court will make it impossible for the EU to maintain the group on the list.
The case is T-284/08 People's Mojahedin Organization of Iran v Council.