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British Court Orders Iran's Mujahedeen Be Removed From Terrorist List

A British court has ordered the government to remove the Iranian opposition group, the People's Mujahedeen, from its list of terrorist organizations. The group is hailing the decision as a major victory while the British government says it will appeal the ruling. VOA's Sonja Pace has the story from London.

The People's Mujahedeen of Iran has been described by some as a cult and by others as the only viable opposition to the clerical regime in Tehran. It has also been fighting a long-running battle to get off the list of terrorist organizations in Europe as well as in the United States.

On Friday, it won a major victory when a British tribunal ruled that there is no evidence the People's Mujahedeen has carried out any terrorist activity in years or encouraged others to do so. The court ruled the group should be dropped from Britain's list of terrorist organizations.

The People's Mujahedeen is part of the broader umbrella grouping - the National Council of Resistance in Iran. The group's president-elect Maryam Rajavi called Friday's verdict a "magnificent victory for justice."

Speaking to VOA from the group's headquarters in Paris, spokesman Shahin Gobadi says the ruling sends an important political message to the government in Tehran.

"The message is that firmness should be the policy vis-a-vis the Iranian regime, and also it means that the policy of appeasement which this [terrorism] listing is part and parcel of, should be put aside once and for all," Gobadi said.

Gobadi says Friday's ruling vindicates the group's assertion that the terrorist label was wrong from the start and was part of the West's attempt to get on a better footing with Tehran.

The British government said it was disappointed by Friday's ruling and will appeal. Until then, the People's Mujahedeen will reportedly remain on the terrorist list.

The opposition group was first set up in the 1960s with the aim of overthrowing the U.S.-backed regime of the late Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi. It took part in the Islamic revolution, but soon fell out with the new clerical government and set out on a campaign of assassinations and bombings to topple it. The group moved to Iraq in the 1980s and operated from there with the blessing of Saddam Hussein. After Saddam was ousted, the U.S. military disarmed the group.

The group's resolve toward regime change in Iran has found support among lawmakers in Europe and the United States. Dozens of British members of parliament supported the case to drop the People's Mujahedeen from Britain's terrorism list.