COURT BACKS IRA­NI­ANS

The Washington Times Daily - - World - BY JAMES MOR­RI­SON

The Ira­nian re­sis­tance won an­other vic­tory in a U.S. fed­eral court this week, when a three-judge panel ruled the group has a right to a speedy hear­ing on its pe­ti­tion to be re­moved from the U.S. ter­ror­ist list — af­ter nearly two years of de­lay by the State Depart­ment.

The judges gave the fed­eral gov­ern­ment un­til March 26 to respond to the Peo­ple’s Mo­ja­hedin Or­ga­ni­za­tion of Iran (PMOI), which was added to the list by Pres­i­dent Bill Clin­ton when he was try­ing to open talks with the theo­cratic Ira­nian regime in 1997.

“It’s cer­tainly a fa­vor­able de­vel­op­ment,” said Ali Safavi, pres­i­dent of Near East Pol­icy Re­search in North­ern Virginia and a sup­porter of the PMOI.

Mr. Safavi said the U.S. Court of Ap­peals for the Dis­trict of Columbia rec­og­nized that 3,300 mem­bers and sup­port­ers of the PMOI face a lifethreat­en­ing sit­u­a­tion in Camp Ashraf in Iraq, where they have been based since the 1980s.

The Iraqi gov­ern­ment has or­dered the Ira­ni­ans ex­pelled from the coun­try by the end of April, but no other na­tion will ac­cept them as refugees be­cause the PMOI is on the U.S. ter­ror list. Iraqi se­cu­rity forces have at­tacked the un­armed camp res­i­dents twice, killing 11 in July 2009 and 34 in April 2011.

The Jus­tice Depart­ment, rep­re­sent­ing Sec­re­tary of State Hil­lary Rod­ham Clin­ton, ar­gued that the court should deny the PMOI’S re­quest for a writ of man­damus, a le­gal ma­neu­ver that asks a court to en­force an ear­lier or­der.

In 2010, the court ruled that the State Depart­ment had vi­o­lated the PMOI’S con­sti­tu­tional right to due process two years ear­lier when thenSec­re­tary of State Con­doleezza Rice re­fused a re­quest from the group to be re­moved from the list.

The court gave the Obama ad­min­is­tra­tion 180 days to re­view the sta­tus of the PMOI, which re­nounced its armed strug­gle against Iran in 2003, when U.S. forces dis­armed the rebels af­ter the in­va­sion of Iraq.

Nearly two years later, the gov­ern­ment is still ar­gu­ing it needs more time to con­sider whether the re­sis­tance meets the stan­dards to re­main listed as a ter­ror­ist group.

Jus­tice Depart­ment at­tor­ney Dou­glas N. Let­ter, in his re­sponse to the PMOI case, said the State Depart­ment must re­view “highly clas­si­fied in­for­ma­tion, ex­pert analy­ses of the ma­te­rial in the ad­min­is­tra­tion record, del­i­cate for­eign re­la­tions con­cerns and com­plex na­tional se­cu­rity de­ter­mi­na­tions.”

He ar­gued that a decision on the PMOI’S sta­tus would have to be made by high-level of­fi­cials at the State, Trea­sury and Jus­tice de­part­ments.

PMOI at­tor­ney Viet Dinh, a for­mer Jus­tice Depart­ment lawyer, com­plained about the “un­war­ranted and un­rea­son­able” de­lay by the State Depart­ment.

“While the sec­re­tary [of state] dithers on PMOI’S re­quest to re­voke its [ter­ror­ist] des­ig­na­tion, Ashraf res­i­dents face a con­tin­u­ing threat of deadly vi­o­lence from Iraqi forces, and other coun­tries are reluc­tant to ac­cept them for re­set­tle­ment as long as PMOI re­mains on the list,” Mr. Dinh said.

Ear­lier this week, mem­bers of the House For­eign Af­fairs Com­mit­tee pressed Mrs. Clin­ton to take the PMOI off the ter­ror­ist list.

“We are deeply con­cerned about the se­cu­rity and safety of these res­i­dents of Camp Ashraf,” Mrs. Clin­ton said. “We con­tinue to work on our re­view of the [PMOI] des­ig­na­tion.”

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