July 15th, 2011
03:51 PM ET

Iranian opposition supporters accuse State Department of dragging feet

Supporters of an Iranian opposition group labeled a terrorist organization by the United States rallied outside the State Department Friday to demand the quick de-listing of their status, a decision they claim should have happened long ago.

More than one hundred supporters of the Mujahedeen-e-Khalq (MEK) said the State Department was dragging its feet in deciding whether to keep them on the list of Foreign Terrorist Organizations following a ruling by a federal appeals court in Washington last July. A three judge panel said that MEK's due process protections had been violated because the State Department had not allowed the group to contest certain information used to justify their designation on the terror list.

"President Obama keeps saying he is with the Iranian people, he needs to show it right now," Shirin Nariman, a supporter of MEK, told CNN at the rally at the State Department. "If he is really with the Iranian people he needs to allow the main opposition group," to continue its work inside Iran, around the world to push for regime change.

"The State Department is undertaking a review of the foreign terrorist organization designation for the MEK, which will eventually be decided upon by the secretary of state on whether to rescind or maintain that designation," State Department Deputy Spokesperson Mark Toner said Friday. " Now, my understanding is that the MEK Council provided additional information related to this review on June 6th. And we're currently reviewing this new material."

The MEK, which was put on the list by the Clinton administration in 1997 as part of an effort to engage what was thought to be a more liberal leadership than the present regime, has many supporters in Congress, as well as former high-ranking government officials who support its removal from the list.

The group also maintains a presence at a location called Camp Ashraf in northern Iraq where more than 30 people were killed and several hundred injured in clashes with Iraqi security forces earlier this year. The group was offered sanctuary in Iraq under Saddam Hussein after his government waged an eight year war with Iran, and was then protected by American forces after his regime fell. Camp Ashraf's status has become a source of international friction since it fell under Iraqi government jurisdiction.

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Filed under: Foreign Policy • Iran • Iraq • Terrorism
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