Appeals Court Will Remove MEK From Terror List Unless State Department Acts

June 1, 2012 10:51 a.m.

An appeals court told Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on Friday that if the State Department doesn’t make a decision on whether an Iranian opposition group should remain on the list of designated foreign terrorist organizations they’ll order them to take the People’s Muhajedin Organization of Iran, or MEK, off it.

The ruling by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit, first reported by Mike Scarcella of the National Law Journal, instructs the State Department to decide whether the Iranian opposition group still belongs on the list before October 1. Several prominent politicians and former government officials have spoken out against the MEK remaining on the list, usually during speeches paid for by a network of MEK supporters in the U.S.

“In light of the national security and foreign policy concerns underlying the designation, we decline, at this time, to revoke the FTO’s designation,” the court ruled. “Instead, we order the Secretary to either deny or grant PMOI’s petition not later than four months from the date this opinion issues.”

If Clinton “fails to take action within that period, the petition for a writ of mandamus setting aside the FTO designation will be granted,” the court said.

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Former Justice Department official Viet Dinh told the National Law Journal they were “grateful for the relief granted by the Court, and we look forward to working cooperatively with the Department of State on the decision to delist.”

Several supporters who took payments from the MEK’s network of supporters received subpoenas from the Treasury Department earlier this year. Investigators were evidently looking into the sources of the payments to see whether the money came from the MEK in violation of U.S. law.

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