BRUSSELS, Belgium (AP) – European Union governments decided Thursday to keep an Iranian opposition group on its terror blacklist, European diplomats said.
The 27-nation bloc was asked to review whether the Paris-based People’s Mujahadeen Organization of Iran should be taken off the list after an EU court ruling.
The diplomats, speaking on condition of anonymity because the decision had not been formally announced, said EU governments rejected the group’s arguments that it should be removed from the list.
Maryam Rajavi, head of The National Council of Resistance — the Paris-based political wing of the PMOI — condemned the decision.
In a statement, her group described the move as "a political, legal and ethical scandal which makes a mockery of the (EU) court’s judgment and the rule of law."
The group added it had gotten the support of "more than 1,000" lawmakers across Europe, adding that parliaments in Italy, Denmark, the Netherlands and Finland have all urged the EU to remove the PMOI from the blacklist.
Shahin Gobadi, a spokesman for the group, said the PMOI would organize a mass rally and march in Paris on Saturday to protest the EU decision. He said the group aimed to draw "tens of thousands" of Iranian exiles from across Europe to the demonstration.
The PMOI, which advocates the overthrow of the Iranian regime, is also on the U.S. State Department’s list of terrorist organizations. Former Iraqi president Saddam Hussein allowed the group to operate camps in Iraq from which it launched attacks inside Iran, although the group now says it has renounced military action and its militants in Iraq have handed weapons over to U.S.-led forces there.
The People’s Mujahadeen is also seeking euro1 million (US$1.35 million) in damages, claiming the EU has refused to apply an order last year from the European Court of Justice that annulled a 2002 decision to place the organization on its terrorist blacklist and order its assets frozen.
EU legal experts have said, however, that the court’s ruling focused on procedural problems and did not imply that a group had to be removed from the list.
The experts claim the EU has complied with the judgment by supplying documents explaining its decision and allowing the People’s Mujahadeen to present counter arguments as part of a review it undertook.
The People’s Mujahadeen have said documents provided by the EU were inadequate, based on outdated material and that they failed to recognize that the organization has declared a halt to military action against the Iranian government.
The group claims Brussels and Washington are keeping it on their terror lists to avoid further harming relations with Tehran.
The People’s Mujahadeen Organization, which is also known as the Mujahedeen Khalq, or MEK, has been on the U.S. State Department’s list of terrorist organizations since 1997, which bars anyone in the United States from providing material support.
The State Department says the Mujahedeen Khalq groups were funded by Saddam Hussein, supported the seizure of the U.S. Embassy in Tehran in 1979 and are responsible for the deaths of Americans in the 1970s.
By CONSTANT BRAND ,Associated Press Writer, 28 June 2007
Associated Press Newswires