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Terrorist listing not in question

Mojahedin-e Khalq is a terrorist entity

The European Court of Justice yesterday overturned an European Union (EU) decision to freeze the assets of an exiled Iranian resistance movement, that is on the bloc’s terrorist blacklist.

The court’s ruling annuls a 2002 decision to freeze all European assets of the Paris-based group, the People’s Mujahadeen of Iran.

It was the first time an appeal to the EU’s terrorist list has been successful at the Luxembourg-based EU court. EU legal officials stressed that EU governments would not immediately remove the exiled group from their terrorist list, saying they had to study the full 45-page ruling before any decisions would be made.

“For the time being, they are on the list,” said Jean-Claude Piris, legal counsel to the 25 EU governments. “But we have to examine it as soon as possible.”

EU governments said in a statement that the court’s ruling did not call into question the EU’s antiterrorist list.

It said that the judgment also did not call into question a decision by EU governments that group was a terrorist organisation.

The US also lists the group as a terrorist organisation.

But the group, founded by students at Tehran University in the 1960s, insists it advocates the overthrow of Iran’s hard-line clerical regime by peaceful means.

In its ruling, the court said the group was not given a fair hearing to defend itself against the move to blacklist it.

“Certain fundamental rights and safeguards, including the right to a fair hearing, the obligation to state reasons and the right to effective judicial protection are, as a matter of principle, fully applicable,” the court said.

The court ruling said there was “a distinction” between Mujahadeen’s appeal to the EU court and previous cases filed with the court to have names removed from the list.

The EU court last July dismissed requests by two terrorist suspects to annul the bloc’s moves to freeze their assets under a United Nations (UN) antiterrorist order.

The court said the exiled Iranian group was added to the list under EU law, and not under a UN order, as with the others, so EU governments are “bound to observe” fundamental rights under EU law.

Piris said that the ruling would likely force a change in how European governments add groups or persons to the list, suggesting that rules include informing those suspects after they have been added to the list, so they could exercise their right to appeal the decision at the EU’s high court.

The list, set up after the terrorist attacks on September 11 2001 and which was last updated in May, is done in secret by a special committee of security representatives from each member state.

The blacklist contains 45 people and 48 groups or entities believed to be involved in terrorist activities.

Associated Press, December 12, 2006

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