26th Oct 2016

EU ministers drop Iran group from terror list

Iranian opposition group PMOI has won a seven-year battle to get off the EU's terrorism blacklist, in developments that could damage Europe's efforts to talk Tehran out of building a nuclear bomb.

EU foreign ministers meeting in Brussels on Monday (26 January) agreed as an "A point" - an agenda point with no political debate - to remove the People's Mojahedin Organisation of Iran (PMOI) from the EU terrorist register.

Dear EUobserver reader

Subscribe now for unrestricted access to EUobserver.

Sign up for 30 days' free trial, no obligation. Full subscription only 15 € / month or 150 € / year.

  1. Unlimited access on desktop and mobile
  2. All premium articles, analysis, commentary and investigations
  3. EUobserver archives

EUobserver is the only independent news media covering EU affairs in Brussels and all 28 member states.

♡ We value your support.

If you already have an account click here to login.

  • Uranium enrichment: PMOI had complained the EU was keeping it in on the list to help smooth nuclear talks with Iran (Photo: wikipedia)

The move follows a ruling by the EU court in Luxembourg in December which censured France for failing to disclose alleged new evidence that PMOI poses a terrorist threat.

British courts in May last year, which had access to classified evidence, also said the group should be struck off a UK blacklist, generating political momentum for Monday's EU decision.

The foreign ministers' move allows PMOI to freely raise funds in Europe and removes the stigmatic label attached to its members since 2002.

Iran has in past years executed PMOI supporters after calling them "terrorists" with reference to the EU list, a spokesman for PMOI sister group, the Paris-based National Resistance Council of Iran (NRCI), told EUobserver.

"All we want is democratic elections in Iran," the NRCI's Shahin Gobadi said.

He added that "thousands" of pro-PMOI demonstrators are to hold a rally in Brussels on Tuesday, when the ministers' decision becomes law after it is published in the EU's Official Journal.

PMOI was set up in the 1960s in resistance to the US-backed Shah. It launched armed attacks against Iran's Islamic regime in the 1980s and 1990s but renounced violence in 2001 and gave up arms in 2003.

Tehran says PMOI is still a dangerous personality cult centred around Paris-based exile Maryam Rajavi, whose leadership should be brought to justice for past acts of violence.

"The record of the Mojahedin's actions is very heavy and if the EU decides to remove them from the terrorist list, it will be a conscious political decision," Iranian foreign ministry spokesman Hassan Qashqavi said on Sunday, newswires report.

A few hundred Islamist protesters picketed the French embassy in Tehran the same day, shouting "Death to Sarkozy," accusing the French leader of letting PMOI off the hook. The British embassy in Tehran is to be targeted on Monday.

The EU's decision comes amid long-running efforts by the five veto holding-powers of the UN Security Council (the US, Russia, China, France and the UK) plus Germany to persuade Iran to halt a uranium-enrichment project which could help it build nuclear weapons.

The PMOI delisting is the first time the EU has taken a group off the terrorist register following complaints that the EU's secretive decision-making process undermined people's right to legal redress.

PMOI has also seen the fastest-ever ruling by the EU Court of First Instance in December, after jurists felt the council of ministers was exploiting legal loopholes based on time lags.

News in Brief

  1. Report: EU to rule on Gazprom pipeline link
  2. France registers biggest fall in unemployment for 20 years
  3. May feared businesses would leave the UK over Brexit
  4. US judge approves deal to buy back dirty VW diesel cars
  5. MEPs lift Jean-Marie Le Pen immunity
  6. Norway agrees to host 330 US soldiers
  7. Eurozone fund agrees €2.8bn Greece payment
  8. French shift 2,300 from Calais migrant camp

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. EFADraft Bill for a 2nd Scottish Independence Referendum
  2. UNICEFCalls on European Council to Address Plight of Refugee and Migrant Children
  3. ECTAJoin us on 9-10 November in Brussels and Discover the new EU Digital Landscape
  4. Access NowCan you Hear me now? Verizon’s Opportunity to Stand for Global Users
  5. Belgrade Security ForumMeaningful Dialogue Missing Not Only in the Balkans, but Throughout Europe
  6. EuropecheEU Fishing Sector Celebrates Sustainably Sourced Seafood in EU Parliament
  7. World VisionWomen and Girls Urge EU Leadership to Help end Gender-based Violence
  8. Dialogue PlatformIs Jihadism Blind Spot of Western Intellectuals ? Wednesday 26 October
  9. Belgrade Security ForumGet the Latest News and Updates on the Belgrade Security Forum @BelSecForum
  10. Crowdsourcing Week EuropeMaster Crowdsourcing, Crowdfunding and Innovation! Conference 21 November - 10% Discount Code CSWEU16
  11. EJCEU Parliament's Roadmap for Relations with Iran a Massive Missed Opportunity
  12. Nordic Council of MinistersFish Skin on Bare Skin: Turning Fish Waste into Sustainable Fashion