Harmful Consequences of Continued and Unwarranted FTO Designation of MEK
Legal Consequences: The Anti-terrorism Effective Death Penalty Act of 1996 (AEDPA) is designed to criminalize any material support by any US person to an organization which is designated as a Foreign Terrorist Organization (FTO). Anyone convicted on the basis of the material support statute could be imprisoned up to 15 years and fined $250,000. 18 U.S.C. §§ 2339B (a)(1), 3571(b).
Impact on the MEK:
- Many members of the MEK have been arrested, tortured, and executed inIranunder the pretext of, citing the designation by the State Department, cracking down on “terrorists.”
- The designation has had a dire effect on the MEK’s lawful activities in the US. Its Washington office, which operated for 16 years, remains closed since 2003.
- Immigration laws also deny entry to the US by MEK representatives. So long as MEK remains an FTO, they cannot travel to the US to engage with political leaders, Members of Congress and the Iranian Diaspora about its efforts to bring democracy to Iran.
- The terrorist stigma has gravely handicapped the MEK’s political, diplomatic, financial, and organizational wherewithal at a juncture when every Iranian democratic opposition needs to function at full throttle to achieve democratic change.
Impact on Safety and Security of MEK Members in Camp Ashraf:
- The Iraqi government has justified its inhumane treatment of 3,400 MEK members residing in CampAshrafby invoking the group’s placement on the FTO list, claiming that the residents have no rights because they are terrorists.
- The designation has acted as the main obstacle to relocating the residents of Ashraf in third countries, including EU member states, according to the UN Refugee Agency.
- US and EU parliamentarian fact-finding delegations to probe the April 2011 massacre at CampAshrafwere denied permission to visit a “terrorist” camp by an Iraqi government determined to hide its bloody tracks inside the camp housing defenseless civilians.
- None of the residents’ family members in the US has been able to provide any assistance of any kind to their loved ones in Camp Ashraf because of the fear of being prosecuted under the material support statute.
Impact on Iranian Diaspora and Pro-Democracy Activism:
- It has sharply curtailed speech and association by Iranian-Americans since support for, or association with, an FTO carries a risk of criminal prosecution, imprisonment, fines, the denial of entry into the country, and deportation.
- The FTO designation affixes the stigma of US government’s “terrorism” label to a wide range of activism aimed at securing political and human rights in Iran.
- It also dissuades other Iranian political groupings from reaching out to the MEK for the fear that they too might be painted with the brush of terrorism.