Page last updated at 16:29 GMT, Tuesday, 24 June 2008 17:29 UK

Iranian group in UK terror win

A PMOI supporter in London
Protest: PMOI supporters had accused the UK of appeasing Tehran

An Iranian opposition organisation is pushing to be legalised across the EU after being taken off the UK's list of alleged terrorist groups.

The People's Mojahedin of Iran, also known as Mujaheddin-e-Khalq, has been legalised in the UK after winning an earlier court battle.

The UK government named the PMOI as an alleged terrorist group in 2001.

Tehran says the PMOI is dangerous and violent - but supporters say it has wants a secular democratic system.

Westminster lifted the UK ban on the opposition group on Monday evening, six months after an unprecedented legal victory.

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A special tribunal found last year that ministers had acted perversely in proscribing the PMOI, ruling that evidence pointed in the other direction.

Since then, PMOI supporters have accused London of delaying legalising the group for diplomatic reasons. Ministers have denied appeasing Tehran, saying the decision to ban, and now to lift, had the support of all the government.

Announcing the lifting of the ban, security minister Tony McNulty told MPs: "The PMOI is opposed to the Iranian government, and its stated aim is to replace that regime with a secular democracy."

"Although it currently describes itself as a non-violent democratic movement, there can be no doubt that the PMOI was responsible for vile acts of terrorism over a long period, stretching back some two decades prior to 2001.

"Those were not acts attributed to the PMOI by the Iranian authorities. It expressly admitted responsibility for a number of horrendous crimes carried out against the Iranian people, aimed at both civilian and military targets."

Iraqi camp

Western officials estimate the PMOI has limited support in Iran largely because of previous violence.

Thousands of its members remain based in Iraq. However, they were disarmed in the wake of the US-led invasion and are said to have adhered to a ceasefire.

An EU-wide proscription of the PMOI remains in place - but British ministers have said this could be lifted because it is based on London's assessment of the risk posed by the group.

Lord Corbett, a prominent British supporter of the campaign to legalise the group, called on the European Union to follow suit.

"Our own government and others in the EU governments and the US must now understand that the PMOI are our allies and not our enemies in beating back the menace that Iran's theocratic regime represents," he said.


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