BELGIUM: Iranian exile group to sue EU for keeping its armed wing on its terrorism listRecord ID: 313819
- Title: BELGIUM: Iranian exile group to sue EU for keeping its armed wing on its terrorism list
- Date: 10th May 2007
- Summary: (W3) BRUSSELS, BELGIUM (MAY 10, 2007) (REUTERS) NEWS CONFERENCE WITH DAVID VAUGHAN, LEGAL COUNSEL FOR THE PMOI (PEOPLE'S MUJAHEDEEN ORGANISATION OF IRAN) IRANIAN OPPOSITION GROUP AND PMOI LAWYER JEAN PIERRE SPITZER VAUGHAN SITTING DOWN AND LISTENING TO A JOURNALIST BANNER READING: 'PMOI'S LEGAL ACTION AGAINST THE COUNCIL OF THE EUROPEAN UNION'
- Reuters ID: LVACCQZ140SW5LL7UM4ZKQYQ5Z5H
- Location: Belgium
- Country: Belgium
- Duration: 00:00:21
- Topics: Legal System,European Union
- Story Text: An Iranian opposition group says it will sue the European Union for keeping its armed wing on its terrorism list. The group's legal counsel argued during a news conference in Brussels its inclusion in the list was in breach of a European court ruling.
An Iranian opposition group said in Brussels on Thursday (May 10) it would sue the European Union for keeping its armed wing on its terrorism list, arguing its inclusion in the list was in breach of a European court ruling.
The European Court of First Instance last year annulled an EU move to freeze the funds of the People's Mujahedeen, or PMOI, the armed wing of the France-based National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI), which says it renounced military activity in 2001.
But the 27 nation-bloc has kept the group on its blacklist, saying the court, Europe's second highest, annulled an old list and not its most recent version, where the group also appears.
The PMOI has bases in Iraq. It began as a leftist-Islamist opposition to the late Shah of Iran but fell out with Shi'ite clerics who took power after the 1979 Islamic revolution.
David Vaughan QC (Queen's Counsel), who represents the PMOI, says the group's bases in Iraq are protected under the Geneva Convention with the agreement of the U.S. coalition forces in Iraq.
The PMOI's claim is for the annulment of the listing, damages amounting to over 1 million euros (1.35 million US dollars) and legal costs.
Vaughan said the European Council's decision to place the Iranian opposition group on the terrorist list was based on political rather than legal considerations.
"The PMOI has been listed as a terrorist organisation since 2002 almost entirely at the request and at the insistence of the Iranian government at the time, and indeed going through the whole case one gets this very clear evidence that in fact we've remained on the list, or my clients have remained on the list, at the insistence of the Iranian government, not of because of anything that we have done or not done at all," Vaughan said.
The court had annulled the bloc's decision to blacklist the group for failing to give a fair hearing or adequate reasons.
The EU has since sent the group a letter explaining its reasons and EU foreign ministers agreed last month to inform groups and people in future why they are put on its list of terrorist organisations, a move the NCRI rejected as cosmetic.
Vaughan also said that the EU3, the troika of nations negotiating with Iran for a suspension of its nuclear programme, had agreed to keep the PMOI on the list if Iran agrees to comply with its nuclear obligations.
The counsel argues that since Iran has not complied the PMOI should be taken off the list, describing it as unreasonable to link such political decisions with the legal rights of a political group in opposition.
"I think everyone knows that Iran has not complied with those nuclear obligations, yet PMOI, according to the council, still remains on the list. But in any event trading off human rights of an organisation such as the PMOI against nuclear obligations under international law upon a state clearly is wholly unacceptable in any civilised society," Vaughan said.
The EU blacklist is reviewed every six months. Therefore, even a legal win this time will not preclude that the group be re-inserted in the list. However Vaughan said the Council should apply the law correctly to the matter.
The EU blacklist includes the Palestinian Hamas group, Sri Lanka's Tamil Tigers and the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK).
Blacklisting means groups are banned and have their assets frozen.
The PMOI says it has renounced violence and laid down arms several years ago and denies being a terrorist organisation, accusing the Council of failing to consider evidence in its favour.
It says it is facing discrimination by the EU and being used as a political card in international negotiations with Iran over its nuclear programme.
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