UNITED24 - Make a charitable donation in support of Ukraine!

Homeland Security


France Launches Sweep Against Iranian Opposition Group
VOA News
17 Jun 2003, 16:28 UTC

French police have launched a massive sweep in the Paris area against members of the Iranian opposition group, the People's Mujahedeen, detaining at least 165 people.

A French anti-terrorist judge, Jean-Louis Bruguiere, ordered Tuesday's sweep involving about 13-hundred police officers. It focused on the group's headquarters at Auvers-sur-Oise and 12 other locations north and west of the French capital. Police say they seized large quantities of computer material and about $1.3 million in cash. Officials say the judge classified the group as a criminal association aiming to prepare terrorist acts and finance a terrorist enterprise.

French Interior Minister Nicolas Sarkozy later told parliament the group had sought to make France a "rear base" - a development he said French authorities could not accept.

A People's Mujahedeen spokesman in London, Ali Safavi, called the charges unjustified. He told journalists by telephone the French raids were an effort to curry favor with the fundamentalist regime in Iran. The group has been trying to topple Iran's clerical rulers for more than 20 years and has its own army based in Iraq.

French authorities say those detained include Maryam Rajavi, the wife of group leader Massoud Rajavi. In 1993, the opposition group declared Mrs. Rajavi to be "Iran's future president."

The United States and the European Union have designated the People's Mujahedeen of Iran a terrorist group. However, this is reported to be the first time that French authorities have moved to detain its members.

The group participated in the 1979 Iranian Revolution but afterward fell victim to brutal repression by the clerical government that consolidated power. Its leaders fled to France but were expelled in 1986 and given shelter by Iraq's Saddam Hussein. Following the U.S.-led war in Iraq, the group's army reached a cease-fire with coalition forces and began turning in its weapons to American troops.

Some information for this report provided by AFP, AP and Reuters.

Join the GlobalSecurity.org mailing list