EU loses Iran terror case
The Wall Street Journal (24 October) - Europe's second-highest court ruled
the European Union wrongly blacklisted an Iranian opposition group, adding fuel
to accusations that the bloc has used its terrorist list to appease the Iranian
The ruling was the second issued by the European Court of First Instance in
Luxembourg since 2006 ordering the EU to unfreeze the People's Mujahedin
Organization of Iran's assets and remove it from the EU list of terrorist
groups. The U.S. also designates the PMOI as a terrorist organization.
The PMOI's court victories and the EU's avoidance of those rulings have put
the bloc on the defensive. A group of prominent European lawyers attacked the EU
over the issue last month, accusing it of abusing the law for political ends.
"If the [European Union] continue to defy this verdict, it will clearly show
that from the very first this listing was the result of a deal with the mullahs'
regime, and not based on fact," said Maryam Rajavi, who heads the Paris-based
National Council for Resistance in Iran, the PMOI's political wing.
EU spokesmen have said repeatedly that they have sufficient evidence to
justify the listing and deny abusing due process. The EU's next review of its
terrorist list is due by the end of the year.
The PMOI renounced violence in 2001, and no attack has been tied to it since.
The EU added the group to its terrorist blacklist in 2002.
Iran has made the PMOI's international terrorist designation a diplomatic
priority. Europe has been leading negotiations with Iran to persuade it to give
up its nuclear-fuel program since 2003. Delisting the PMOI could make Iran still
more intransigent in those talks, analysts say.
In Thursday's ruling, the court found the EU was wrong to keep the PMOI
listed as a terrorist organization in December based on evidence provided by the
U.K. because a top English court had ruled the British listing of PMOI was
Since December, the U.K. lost a final appeal and was forced to take the group
off its terrorist list. It also withdrew its sponsorship of the EU listing.
France took the U.K.'s place in July, claiming new evidence, allowing the EU to
keep the group on the list with a fresh decision. The PMOI has filed a new case
in the Court of First Instance, which is still pending, to challenge that July
Freeze of Iran group's funds rejected
The New York Times (24 October) - A prominent Iranian opposition group won an
appeal on Thursday against a European Union decision to freeze its funds. The
move could increase pressure on the European Union to relax its ban on the
group, the People's Mujahedeen, which is on a European terrorist list.
The European Court of First Instance in Luxembourg said that the People's
Mujahedeen had renounced violence earlier this decade. The group said it would
concentrate instead on peaceful opposition to the government in Tehran.
The decision by the court follows a ruling in May by the Court of Appeal in
Britain that the British government was wrong to include the group on its list
of banned terrorist groups.
The Court of First Instance, the European Union's second-highest tribunal,
said Thursday that the evidence presented was "manifestly insufficient to
provide legal justification for continuing to freeze" the group's funds.
Maryam Rajavi, the president-elect of the National Council of Resistance of
Iran, the group's political wing, said in a statement that the ruling "puts an
end to the unjust label of terrorism."
The group is regarded as potentially the most important force in the Iranian
resistance. Legalization could allow the group to raise money and organize
resistance to Iran's ruling ayatollahs.
According to the European Union court, the Iranian group was founded in 1965
with the goal of replacing the government of the shah of Iran. But after the
1979 Islamic Revolution, which brought clerics to power, the ayatollahs and the
group turned against each other.
Court order over EU terror list
The Press Association (23 October) - Europe's governments were ordered by a
court to follow the UK's lead and take Iran's main opposition group off a
blacklist of suspected terror organisations.
The European Court of First Instance in Luxembourg upheld a legal claim by
the exiled People's Mojahedin Organisation of Iran (PMOI) that there is no
justification for including the group and freezing its funds.
The ruling is the latest in a series of verdicts supporting the PMOI's
demands to be removed from the list - but the battle is not over.
The case was an appeal against a decision by the EU's Council of Ministers
last December to keep the PMOI on its terror list.
That decision came just weeks after the UK's own independent judicial
authority, the Proscribed Organisations Appeal Commission (POAC) ordered the
PMOI's removal from the UK list. But the PMOI stayed on the UK list until June
this year - and still remains on the EU list after a review in July.
The European judges said last December's EU decision should be annulled
because there was no justification for including the PMOI. There was no
evidence, added the judges, that the EU ministers had fulfilled their
requirement to take account of the POAC ruling on the PMOI case, which had been
the first by a "competent judicial authority" in the UK.
The PMOI was originally included on the EU list at UK insistence in 2002,
after then Home Secretary Jack Straw put the PMOI on the Government's own list.
Years of PMOI objections resulted in a European Court ruling in December 2006
that PMOI inclusion was "unlawful". The Court said the group was seeking regime
change in Teheran by political, non-violent means. But EU governments -
including the UK - took no action, claiming the ruling was based on a
Then last November came the POAC's damning verdict. POAC chairman Sir Harry
Ognall, a former judge, said the Government's decision to blacklist the PMOI was
"perverse" and "unreasonable", because it had not been involved in any military
activity since August 2001, and had disarmed in 2003.
Court annuls EU assets freeze on Iran opposition group
AFP (23 October) - A European court on Thursday annulled an EU decision to
freeze the assets of the main Iranian opposition in exile, though the group
remains on the terror list for the time being.
The Court of First Instance ruled that the EU had "failed to give sufficient
reasons" to keep the People's Mujahedeen of Iran (PMOI) on the list, following a
British court decision to remove them from its national list.
It was the second such ruling by the court, which is Europe's second-highest
The European Union had justified its decision to disregard the British court
judgement by arguing that the government there had initially considered
appealing against the ruling. But the Luxembourg court said that this was "not
The British interior minister had since been denied the right to appeal the
decision on the grounds that "none of the arguments put forward stood a
reasonable chance of succeeding," the EU court said.
For the time being however, the group remains on the current version of the
EU terror blacklist. The EU terror list is only updated every six months and
Thursday's court ruling refers to an EU decision in December 2007, not the
The European Council of member states in July placed the Iranian opposition
group on its latest terror list, citing "new information" on the group, which
has not been made public. But given that the Luxembourg court handed down a
similar ruling on the group in December 2006, this latest verdict increases the
pressure on the European Union to heed the court and keep the PMOI name off
Exiled Iran opposition leader Maryam Rajavi -- who has residency in France --
hailed the latest court ruling as "victory".
The decision proved that the EU's "insistence on keeping the PMOI on this
list has no legal or judicial base," she told AFP. The EU's position was just "a
concession made to the mullahs (in Tehran) which allows them to maintain their
religious dictatorship," she added.
Ban on Iran opposition should be lifted, says EU court
Daily Telegraph (23 October) - Iran's main opposition group won another
victory today in its long-running campaign to have its name taken off the list
of organisations banned for terrorist links.
The European Court of First Instance in Luxembourg upheld a legal claim by
the exiled People's Mojahedin Organisation of Iran (PMOI) that there was no
justification for including the group and freezing its funds. The court, part of
the European Court of Justice, allowed an appeal against a decision by the EU's
Council of Ministers last December to keep the PMOI on its terror list.
That decision came just weeks after a court in London known as the Proscribed
Organisations Appeal Commission ordered the PMOI's removal from the UK list. But
it was only after the Government lost an appeal to the Court of Appeal in May
that Britain lifted its ban on the PMOI in June.
The European judges said today last December's EU decision should be annulled
because there was no justification for including the PMOI in the list. There was
no evidence, added the judges, that the EU ministers had fulfilled their
requirement to take account of the London court's ruling on the PMOI case, which
had been the first by a "competent judicial authority" in the UK.
But the EU list is renewed every six months. By the time the court delivered
its judgment today, a fresh ban on the PMOI had been imposed in July. An appeal
against that decision is pending but the PMOI remains banned in the meantime.
The EU said it would not appeal against the ruling because it has since
changed its rules on compiling the list. The organization remains banned with
its accounts frozen, the EU said, because new information submitted by France
claims the PMOI is still conducting violent activities. This is firmly denied by
Lord Corbett, chairman of the British Parliamentary Committee for Iran
Freedom, made it clear that the next steps would have to be political. "The UK
now has a duty to take the lead in the EU to de-proscribe the Iranian
resistance," he said.
"It was at the UK's request the ban was imposed. The court's clear verdict
echoes those of our courts: there is no evidence to justify a ban on those
offering peaceful, democratic change in Iran.
"The Home Secretary should now apologise to the PMOI and those millions in
Iran who cry for freedom."
He added: "The UK ban was not based on evidence; it was done to persuade the
mullahs to talk about their illicit nuclear weapons programme. This verdict is a
clear signal that the courts stand on the side of those demanding freedom,
rather than those who have stolen it from them. The EU must now do the same".
Maryam Rajavi, president-elect of the PMOI's political wing, said Europe
should not defy its own rule of law.
The ruling "puts the final nail in the coffin of the unjust terror label of
the PMOI," she added.
Mrs Rajavi accused the EU, which has led unsuccessful diplomatic efforts to
persuade Iran to curb its nuclear programme, of seeking to "appease" Tehran by
keeping the PMOI blacklisted.
She said that maintaining the terror label was tantamount to participation
and cooperation with religious fascism in its suppression of the people of Iran,
blocking the path to democratic change in that country.