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France Drops Remaining Charges Against Iranian Dissident Group

The two French magistrates handling the investigation have dropped all charges against the National Council of Resistance of Iran, an official at the office of Paris prosecutors said on Wednesday, without elaborating.

A spokesman for the Iranian embassy in Paris couldn’t be reached for comment.

The prosecutors’ decision could give a boost to the France-based group and its main branch, the Mujahedin e-Khalq, known as MeK, which has been seeking to position itself as a rallying point for Iranian dissidents globally.

“Today’s decision marks the end of this intolerable probe,” said William Bourdon, a lawyer for the NCRI and some of its members targeted by the probe. “The honor and legitimacy of the NCRI has been finally restored.”

Through lawyers, NCRI members have denied the embezzlement charges.

The probe traces back to 2003, when 24 NCRI members were put under formal investigation on preliminary charges of terrorism, after a predawn sweep against the dissident movement’s headquarters near Paris.

At the time, French investigators said they suspected the NCRI was diverting money collected in Europe through relief organizations to help finance terrorist actions against the Iranian regime.

NCRI members and the group’s leader, Maryam Rajavi, have denied any link to terrorism. The terrorism charges were dropped in 2011.

Founded in 1965, the MeK helped topple the regime of the Shah of Iran during the 1979 Islamic revolution. But the group quickly split with Iran’s new clerical rulers, led by Ayatollah Khomeini. Some MeK members fled to France, and some later established themselves in Iraq and fought alongside Saddam Hussein’s forces in Iraq’s eight-year war against Iran.

The MeK was removed from the list of foreign terror organizations in Europe in 2009 and in the U.S. two years ago, after the group renounced acts of violence.


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