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Mr. Rendell, who once served as general chairman of the Democratic National Committee, is apparently the only person to be subpoenaed among a group of nearly two dozen high-level political figures who have grown increasingly vocal in their calls for the MEK’s removal from the terrorist list.

The group includes Democrats such as former Vermont Gov. Howard Dean and high-profile Republicans such as former Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge and former Attorney General Michael B. Mukasey.

At issue is the fate of 3,400 Iranian dissidents said to be members of the MEK. They have been living in Iraq since the Iran-Iraq war during the 1980s when they fought on the Iraqi side.

Since the U.S. occupation of Iraq in 2003, the unarmed MEK supporters lived under U.S. protection at a camp on the Iranian border. But now that the Americans have left, the Iraqi government has said it will close the camp.

Iraqi forces have attacked the camp several times over the years and killed 34 dissidents in a raid in April.

The supporters fear they will be deported and face torture and death in Iran, and third countries are unwilling to take them because of the group’s designation on the foreign terrorist organization list overseen by the State Department.

The group has sued the State Department in federal court to be taken off the list, but the case has dragged on for more than two years. Last week, a court ruled that the State Department must respond to the MEK petition by March 26.

The European Union removed the group from its terrorist list in 2009.

A question of payment

David Cole, a professor at the Georgetown University Law Center, noted that “any group that’s on the list is also, by definition, on the Treasury Department’s list for specially designated global terrorists.”

“Anyone in the United States is prohibited from engaging in any transaction with such an entity,” he said.

While Mr. Cole stressed his personal belief that individuals have a “First Amendment right to speak out freely” for an organization like the MEK, he said that “it is a crime to engage in any transaction, which would certainly include getting paid to do public relations for them.”

Mr. Rendell and Mr. Ridge acknowledged to The Times that they have been paid for making media appearances and speeches calling for the MEK’s removal from the terrorist list.

Both men defended their actions.

“I’ve been in politics 34 years, and I can tell you right now that I would not jeopardize my reputation for any amount of money,” said Mr. Rendell. “I did my research extensively on this issue before I ever agreed to speak on it, and I am 100 percent convinced that the MEK shouldn’t be on the foreign terrorist organization list.”

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