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Court gives Clinton four months to decide on MEK terror label
A U.S. appeals court on Friday ordered Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton to decide within four months on removing an Iranian dissident group from the State Department’s list of foreign terrorist organizations.
The three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit ruled that if Mrs. Clinton fails to take a decision within four months, it would set aside the terrorist designation of the Mujahedeen-e-Khalq (MEK).
But the court declined to immediately revoke the terrorist designation citing “national security and foreign policy concerns.”
Maryam Rajavi, the MEK’s Paris-based leader, said the court’s order “demonstrated that maintaining the terrorist designation on the People's Mojahedin Organization of Iran is absolutely illegitimate and unlawful, and is guided by ulterior political motives.”
Members of the MEK are being relocated from their present home at Camp Ashraf, north of Baghdad, to Camp Liberty, a former U.S. military base near the Iraqi capital’s international airport under a deal brokered by the United Nations.
A Justice Department attorney representing Mrs. Clinton told the court on May 8 that the secretary would make a decision on removing the MEK from the terrorist list no later than 60 days after Camp Ashraf had been vacated, and data gathered from the relocation had been studied to verify the group’s claims that it is not a terrorist organization.
State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said that Mrs. Clinton has stated previously, “given the ongoing efforts to relocate the residents of Camp Ashraf to [Camp Liberty], MEK cooperation in the successful and peaceful closure of Camp Ashraf, the MEK’s main paramilitary base, will be a key factor in her decision regarding the MEK’s [foreign terrorist organization] status.”
The U.N. refugee agency has started a process of determining refugee status of the dissidents, a necessary first step to resettle them in other countries. However, the State Department’s designation of MEK as a foreign terrorist organization has proved to be an obstacle to relocating the dissidents to outside Iraq. U.S. citizens have also been barred from supporting its members.
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About the Author
Ashish Kumar Sen is a reporter covering foreign policy and international developments for The Washington Times.
Prior to joining The Times, Mr. Sen worked for publications in Asia and the Middle East. His work has appeared in a number of publications and online news sites including the British Broadcasting Corp., Asia Times Online and Outlook magazine.
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