September 22, 2017

Court annuls EU asset freeze on Iranian opposition abroad

Agence France Presse
December 12, 2006

LUXEMBOURG – A European court annulled Tuesday a decision to freeze the assets of the main Iranian opposition group abroad, a move that could result in its removal from the EU terror list.

The Court of First Instance, Europe’s second-highest, ordered the EU to cancel a decision from May 2002 to freeze the funds of the People’s Mujahedeen of Iran (OMPI), which claims it should not be on the terror blacklist.

“It could imply the withdrawal from the list,” a court spokeswoman said.

The Luxembourg-based tribunal found that “the decision ordering the freezing of the OMPI’s funds does not contain a sufficient statement of reasons and that it was adopted in the course of a procedure during which the right of the party concerned to a fair hearing was not observed, and that it is not in a position to review the lawfulness of that position.”

“Accordingly that decision must be annulled in so far as it concerns the OMPI,” it said in a statement.

Founded in 1965 with the stated aim of replacing first the Shah’s and then the clerical regime in Iran with a democratically elected government, OMPI has in the past operated an army inside Iran.

It was the armed wing the France-based National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI) but it announced in June 2001 that it had renounced violence.

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.

“Today one of the highest judicial authorities in Europe confirmed the Iranian resistance’s claim that the terrorist label from the beginning was a political issue which was meant to appease the mullahs,” she said.

“All restrictions resulting from the terror tag should be removed from the Iranian resistance immediately,” she said in a statement, read to AFP by a Brussels-based spokesman.

The group said the decision was “proof of the resistance’s legitimacy over the religious fascism in Iran and a victory of justice over economic interests.”

The EU blacklist was drawn up late in 2001, following the September 11 attacks that year in New York and Washington and is revised regularly.

The radical Palestinian group Hamas and the former Basque separatist party Batasuna are among those on it.

The bloc began freezing the funds of groups on it that December.

It did so to implement a UN Security Council resolution calling on all states to fight terror funding, which was adopted in the wake of the suicide hijackings.