“we are not giving any thought to taking them off the list”

Q "…you know, last month they were members of the MEK; today they’re the Coalition for Democracy in Iran, and they’re still raising money that is suspected of going to the MEK?"

MR. ERELI: Last question.

Q To follow up on the Steve’s question about unsavory characters and the MEK, there’s kind of this unusual situation with the MEK that it’s listed as a terrorist organization; you don’t do business with them. But there are groups that are under different aliases aligned with the MEK, raising money in this country, individuals that are holding press conferences, that used to be members of the MEK that now have another name that are talking about the nuclear issue. Could you kind of flesh that out? And is there any thought to taking MEK off the list? I’m not sure what their support is in Iran, but the diaspora around the world seems to have a very large following?

SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL TWO: Elise, I don’t want to go beyond, you know, what our policy is which is that they’re on the terrorist list. We consider them a terrorist organization, and we are not giving any thought to taking them off the list at this point.

Q But how do you reconcile the fact that there are members that use — you know, last month they were members of the MEK; today they’re the Coalition for Democracy in Iran, and they’re still raising money that is suspected of going to the MEK?

SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL TWO: You know, we’re concerned about any activity that provides funds for terrorist organizations. And funds for the MEK would fall under that same rubric. Thanks.

Q And you’re vetting these groups you’re meeting? You’re vetting these groups you’re meeting with to make sure they don’t have these MEK connections?

SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL TWO: Yes. Absolutely. We’re vetting these groups to ensure that they don’t have any unsavory connections, and not just the groups we meet with, but groups that we’re going to be providing funds to.

MR. ERELI: Thanks very much. 

STATE DEPARTMENT BACKGROUND BRIEFING WITH TWO SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIALS (AS RELEASED BY THE STATE DEPARTMENT)

February 15, 2006

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