Paris court frees Mujahedeen leader

AFP, July 2, 2003

PARIS, July 2 (AFP) – A French court on Wednesday ordered the release on bail of Maryam Rajavi, the symbolic leader of the Iranian opposition People’s Mujahedeen who is under investigation for terrorist offenses, her lawyer said.

Rajavi must pay a bail of EUR 80,000 (USD 92,200) in order to be released from preventive detention, said her attorney Henri Leclerc.

William Bourdon, another lawyer for the People’s Mujahedeen, told AFP that Rajavi was expected to post bail in the next 24 to 48 hours, as her family needed that time to raise the money.

The Paris appeals court also ordered the release of eight other Mujahedeen members who, along with Rajavi, were placed under investigation last month for alleged links to a terrorist organization and for funding terrorist activity.

Seven of them were released without bail, while the eighth will be required to post bail like Rajavi.

Last week, a Paris judge rejected Rajavi’s initial request for conditional release, and prosecutors on Tuesday recommended that she remain behind bars.

But her detention has sparked outrage among her followers, with a spate of self-immolation protests across Europe and several dozen people observing a hunger strike at the headquarters of the National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI), the People Mujahedeen’s political front, in Auvers-sur-Oise near Paris.

Two of the 10 people who set themselves on fire over Rajavi’s arrest – a woman in Paris and another in London – have since died of their injuries.

French officials have accused the group, deprived of support from Saddam Hussein following the US-led toppling of the Iraqi regime in April, of making Auvers-sur-Oise their international base and planning attacks against Iranian interests in Europe.

The People’s Mujahedeen, which has been active in France for 20 years, has angrily denied the charges against it, accusing France of trying to curry favour with the government in Tehran by rounding up its followers.

Iran has requested the extradition of Mujahedeen members being held in France, but French officials say those who are legal residents will not be deported. Rajavi has political refugee status in France, valid until 2006.

With a program that blends left-wing and Islamic ideology, the People’s Mujahedeen took part in the 1979 revolution in Iran, but the movement was suppressed in the years that followed and its members fled abroad.

Under the leadership of Rajavi’s husband Massoud, the military wing of the group took refuge in Iraq in 1986, from where it organized attacks inside Iran.

Rajavi’s meteoric ascent within the group was coupled with the dumping of her first husband and pairing off with the rugged Massoud, fuelling criticism from detractors who say the group is little more than a cult.

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Religion News Blog posted this on Wednesday July 2, 2003.
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