28th May 2022

EU cites secret evidence against Iran group

  • The PMOI flag in Brussels (Photo: EUobserver)

The EU claims it has secret evidence that justifies keeping Iran opposition group PMOI on its terrorist register but cannot reveal the content for security reasons, in a situation stoking anger among some MEPs.

"The council [EU states secretariat] is not in a position to give you access to other documents in the file, since the state which provided the documents does not consent to their disclosure," EU officials told PMOI lawyers in a letter on 14 May.

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"Otherwise the position of the EU in international cooperation in the fight against terrorism would be compromised," the letter goes on.

The letter is the latest in a series of documents exchanged between the EU and PMOI since December, when EU courts annulled an EU decision of 2005 to keep the People's Mujahidin Organisation of Iran on its list.

Officially-named terrorist organisations have their financial assets frozen and are forbidden from fund-raising in Europe.

EU officials say the court ruling does not cover a post-2005 decision to keep PMOI on the register, but all the evidence that Brussels has supplied to the group so far deals with pre-2001 activity.

In the 1990's PMOI carried out cross-border raids and assassination attempts against Iran's Islamist authorities, but the group claims it has become a non-violent, democratic opposition movement since then.

"We want to set up an independent body made up of MEPs, MPs, jurists and council officials that can look at these [secret] documents," a PMOI spokesman said on Wednesday (30 May). "We are confident they have no evidence against us."

The PMOI says its inclusion on the terror register, initiated by the UK five years ago, is a political move to give the west a negotiating chip in its efforts to get Tehran to back down on nuclear technology.

Some EU diplomats and Iranian expats believe the opposition group still has a sinister, fanatical fringe however. At least one of its high-profile western supporters has in the past conceded the PMOI leadership is not a model of liberal democracy.

But the mujahidin case has become a cause célèbre for a cross-party caucus of some 100 MEPs called the Friends of Free Iran, which says the EU's treatment of PMOI is undermining EU values.

"The council has no evidence and the decision must be motivated by purely political or economic concerns," senior Spanish conservative MEP Alejo Vidal-Quadras Roca said.

"The council's handling of this case is scandalous," he added. "One of our fundamental values is the rule of law, and this is being violated in order to appease a totalitarian religious regime."

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