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Iran's People's Mujahedeen no longer terrorist, says Europe

Article published on the 2009-01-26 Latest update 2009-01-26 15:09 TU

A flag featuring the leader of the Iranian People's Mujahedeen, Maryam Radjavim, and supporters at a meeting near Paris, 17 June 2008(Photo: AFP)

A flag featuring the leader of the Iranian People's Mujahedeen, Maryam Radjavim, and supporters at a meeting near Paris, 17 June 2008
(Photo: AFP)

European foreign affairs ministers, meeting in Brussels on Monday, decided to drop the People’s Mujahedeen of Iran (PMOI) from the European Union’s list of terrorist organisations. The PMOI are the main Iranian opposition group in exile, based in Iraq, having operated as an armed group from inside the country until the United States invaded in 2003.

Foreign ministers adopted a new terrorist blacklist, as the previous one was to expire.

The Mujahedeen was removed because the Luxembourg-based Court of First Instance ruled last month that the EU had violated the group’s civil rights by freezing its funds without justifying is place on the list.

"Following the judgement of the Court of First Instance... [PMOI] has not been included in the lists of persons, groups and entities," an EU statement said.

France warned Friday that it had appealed the court ruling.

"France considers that the listing of PMOI complies with the law, that's why it has appealed against the decision of this tribunal," said Foreign Ministry spokesperson Frederic Desagneaux.

George Joffe, a Middle East specialist at Cambridge University’s Centre of International Studies, says he was not surprised that the group was removed from the list, but he is interested in the group’s relationship with Iraq.

“What’s more surprising, I think, is that the same time this is occurring is the Mujahedeen military forces in Iraq are being forced to leave the country because the new Iraqi government is not prepared to have them there any longer,” he told RFI.

Analysis: George Joffe, Centre of International Studies, Cambridge University

26/01/2009 by David Page

The PMOI moved its headquarters to Iraq in 1986. It had left Iran soon after the Islamic regime came to power, and went to France, which pushed the group out under pressure from Iran.

“It then went to Iraq, where it set itself up as an armed militia, as well as being a lobbying organisation and was used by the Saddam Hussein regime, partially for domestic purposes, partly as a constant threat to Iran,”  Joffe explains.

They were disarmed and members were jailed by the Americans after their 2003 invasion of Iraq.

Now that they are disarmed, Joffe said they will turn into “one of the many lobbying groups opposed to the Islamic regime”.

PMOI supporters, who have held vigils outside the European Council building, have called for a rally in Tehran’s European quarter on Tuesday.

Hundreds of supporters of the Iranian regime, shouting “Death to Sarkozy” and “Europe, be ashamed”, gathered outside the French embassy to protest the move.