PARIS, May 13, 2011 (AFP) – The dismissal of charges against 24 Iranian dissidents for lack of evidence in a terrorism investigation following a dramatic police operation in 2003 at their headquarters in Val-d’Oise is a recognition of the legitimate “right to resist dictatorship,” their lawyers said on Friday.
The President of the National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI), Maryam Rajavi is among those against whom charges were dropped on Wednesday. The NCRI is a coalition of Iranian opposition groups, the main one being the People’s Mojahedin Organization of Iran (PMOI).
“The magistrates recognize that the action of the Iranian opposition is part of the legitimate right to resist dictatorship,” said lawyer William Bourdon in a statement on behalf of the lawyers of these dissidents.
“Justice has finally defeated the policy of appeasement and commercial dealings. The legitimacy of the Iranian Resistance for freedom is proven once again,” said Mrs. Rajavi’s in a written speech.
About 1,300 armed and masked police, including those of an elite force, had entered the headquarters of the NCRI, at dawn on June 17, 2003, on orders of the anti-terrorism magistrate, Jean-Louis Bruguiere. About 164 NCRI activists had been detained in their premises in Auvers-sur-Oise.
Then Interior Minister, Nicolas Sarkozy justified the operation in the National Assembly by ensuring that “the Mujahedeen wanted to make France their rear base.”
The dissidents’ lawyers have requested a dismissal of charges for nine others who remain under investigation, however, for acts of financial misdoings, and for the return of property seized in 2003.
The People’s Mujahedeen were removed from the European Union’s list of terrorist organizations on 26 January 2009 where they had been placed since 2002. They are still on the U.S. State Department’s list of terrorist organizations.
Founded in 1965, the organization helped overthrow the Shah in 1979, but then turned against the Islamic Republic. It is said to have renounced violence in 2001.
Investigators suspected that the money raised in France by PMOI, through the association Iran Aid for helping orphans in Tehran, was diverted to “terrorist financing.”