Saturday

31st Oct 2020

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.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Become an expert on Europe

Get instant access to all articles — and 20 years of archives. 14-day free trial.

... or subscribe as a group

  • 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.

EUobserved

Belarus: Where's the EU when you need it?

It has been 81 days since the first police cosh hit the first skull in Belarus and president Alexander Lukashenko has still not paid any EU price.

Turkey urges boycott of French products

Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has become the first and only foreign leader to call for a boycott of French goods over alleged Islamophobia.

EU Commission rejects retaliatory visas for US citizens

European Parliament demands to impose visas on visitors from the United States were cast aside by the European Commission. Bulgarians, Croatian, Cypriots and Romanians still require a short-stay visa to enter the United States. MEPs say it is discriminatory.

News in Brief

  1. Polish government rows back on abortion ruling
  2. EU threatens legal action against Poland on rule of law
  3. 'Several dead' after earthquake hits Greece and Turkey
  4. Hungary faces EU court over asylum restrictions
  5. Polish PM urges end to abortion protests to 'protect elderly'
  6. EU to fund cross-border hospital transfers
  7. Some 140 migrants drown on way to Spanish islands
  8. EU central bank preparing new rescue measures

Column

A 'geopolitical' EU Commission. Great idea - but when?

Safeguarding Europe's position starts with recognising the unpleasant reality that Europe's power is waning. Behind the facade of European cooperation, national self-interest still predominates and that has never been any different.

Rightwing MEPs bend to Saudi will after Khashoggi death

Saudi dissident and journalist Jamal Khashoggi was killed two years ago on 2 October. Since then, mainly centre-right, conservative and far-right MEPs have voted down any moves to restrict, limit or ban the sales of weapons to the Saudi regime.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. UNESDAMaking healthier diets the easy choice
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersUN Secretary General to meet with Nordic Council on COVID-19
  3. UNESDAWell-designed Deposit Return Schemes can help reach Single-Use Plastics Directive targets
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Council meets Belarusian opposition leader Svetlana Tichanovskaja
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Region to invest DKK 250 million in green digitalised business sector
  6. UNESDAReducing packaging waste – a huge opportunity for circularity

Latest News

  1. Nice attack: EU urges world leaders to stop hate speech
  2. Europe is back in (partial) lockdown
  3. Gender equality still 60 years away, warns study
  4. I'm an 'election observer' - but what do we actually do?
  5. Deal in reach on linking EU funds to rule of law
  6. EU Commission's Covid-19 expert offers bleak outlook
  7. Belgium's collaboration with Sudan's secret service: my story
  8. What do ordinary Belarusians want from the EU?

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us