OpinionEditorialLifting the ban on Iran's opposition

Lifting the ban on Iran’s opposition

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Iran Focus – Editorial: On Friday, a federal appeals court in the United States ordered the State Department to re-examine a controversial decision to maintain the main Iranian opposition group, the People’s Mojahedin (PMOI), on its list of Foreign Terrorist Organisations. The ruling was a major victory for the PMOI in its 13-year legal battle to get off the FTO list.

Iran Focus

Editorial

On Friday, a federal appeals court in the United States ordered the State Department to re-examine a controversial decision to maintain the main Iranian opposition group, the People’s Mojahedin (PMOI), on its list of Foreign Terrorist Organisations. The ruling was a major victory for the PMOI in its 13-year legal battle to get off the FTO list.

The three-judge panel underscored persisting doubts about the veracity of State accusations such as the claim that the PMOI planned “suicide attacks” in Iraq. Even the Secretary herself was unprepared to guarantee the accuracy of her information and its sources. Other reports “included in the Secretary’s analysis on their face express reservations about the accuracy of the information contained therein,” the Court said.

In holding that “a strict and immediate application of the principles of law” set forth in the decision “could be taken to require a revocation of the designation,” the court remanded the case to the Secretary, ordering her to reconsider her decision. It said that because the Secretary had violated the PMOI’s due process rights, she must provide the organisation with “the opportunity to review and rebut the unclassified portions of the record on which she relied.” It also ordered the Secretary to explain her sources and the information’s relevance to the related statutes. For years, the PMOI has contended that its blacklisting by the US was a “goodwill gesture” to the Iranian regime. US officials have made no secret of this, corroborating it on various occasions. Friday’s ruling affirmed this contention. It is no coincidence that the organisation’s campaign for delisting has won it majority support in Congress as well.

Legal arguments aside, the PMOI’s designation represents a political blunder of major proportions, a remnant of a bygone era of American conciliatory policy towards Iran’s theocratic rulers, which should be dispensed with immediately as the mullahs intensify domestic suppression and rush towards the bomb.

In 2008 and 2009, Britain and the EU delisted the organisation after it won a string of high-profile court rulings. The US State Department now has an opportunity to do the same.

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