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Iranian group wins EU court case

Iranian group wins EU court case

BBC--The People's Mujahideen Organisation of Iran (PMOI) was put on the EU's terror blacklist in 2002, which meant the EU could block the group's finances. But the Luxembourg-based Court of First Instance ruled on Thursday that the EU's decision was wrong. The verdict follows an appeal by the group after a British court had ruled in its favour last year.

The Court of First Instance - the EU's second-highest court - said in its ruling that the EU's "statement of reasons is manifestly insufficient to provide legal justification for continuing to freeze the PMOI's funds."

It added that the EU statement was based on the UK home secretary's intentions to appeal against the British court decision of 2007. The Luxembourg-based court also annulled an EU decision of December 2007 to keep the PMOI on its terror blacklist.

However, the EU updated its blacklist in July - keeping the Iranian group on it - and the court is still due to rule on the PMOI appeal to be excluded from the new list. The PMOI was set up in 1965, with the aim of replacing the Shah of Iran. The PMOI has had an armed wing operating in Iran, but the group is now based in exile. In 2001, the group announced that it was renouncing all military activity.

E.U. Court Rejects Freeze on Iranian Opposition Group's Funds
The New York Times, By JAMES KANTER

BRUSSELS A prominent Iranian opposition group won an appeal on Thursday against a European Union decision to freeze its funds. But the group, the People's Mujahedeen, will remain on a European terror list because the decision concerned a blacklist compiled last year, not the most recent list that was compiled this year.

The decision by the European Court of First Instance in Luxembourg follows a ruling in May by the British Court of Appeal that the British government was wrong to include the group on its list of banned terrorist groups. The decision Thursday could increase pressure on the E.U. to relax its ban on the group.

The E.U. first placed the group on a terror blacklist in 2002. But the court said Thursday 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 on Thursday that the ruling "puts an end to the unjust label of terrorism."

She accused some European governments of seeking to maintain the ban to nurture good relations with the current leadership of Iran. The group is regarded as potentially the most important force in the Iranian resistance. Legalization could enable the group to raise money and organize resistance to the ruling ayatollahs in Iran.

According to the E.U. court, the Iranian group was founded in 1965 with the goal of replacing the government of the Shah of Iran and subsequently its successors with a democracy. The court said that in the past the group had an armed branch operating in Iran, but noted that the group had renounced all military activity in 2001.

Court annuls EU assets freeze for Iranian opposition group

BRUSSELS (AFP) A European court on Thursday annulled an EU decision to freeze the assets of the main Iranian opposition in exile, dealing a fresh blow to the bloc's attempts to keep the group on its terror blacklist.

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 the national list.

It was the second such ruling by the court, which is Europe's second-highest tribunal. The EU's decision was based on measures implemented to respect a UN Security Council resolution drawn up in the wake of the September 11, 2001 attacks which required countries to crack down on terror funding.

Since the EU terror list is updated every six months, and the court ruling refers to an EU decision in December 2007 and not the current list, the group remains on the EU terror blacklist for the time being.

But given the same 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 future lists.

Founded in 1965 with the aim of replacing first the Shah and then the clerical regime in Iran, PMOI has in the past operated an army inside Iran. It was the armed wing of the France-based National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI) but it renounced violence in June 2001.

Exiled Iran opposition leader Maryam Rajavi -- who has residency in France, regularly visits Brussels and despite the ban has been tolerated by the European authorities -- welcomed the court's decision.

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