Thu, Jul 03, 2003 - Page 6 News List

French court frees two members of Mujahedeen

AP , PARIS

An appeals court decided late Tuesday to free two of 11 jailed members of the most powerful Iranian opposition group, the Mujahedeen Khalq, but made no ruling on freedom for the movement's leader, arrested on terrorism-related charges.

The court was to decide yesterday whether to set free Maryam Rajavi, arrested with her comrades in a June 17 sweep of the movement's European headquarters, north of Paris.

Dozens of supporters of the movement have been on a hunger strike, some of them for two weeks, at the Mujahedeen Khalq's walled compound in Auvers-sur-Oise. Two of the hunger strikers were hospitalized Tuesday, according to local officials.

Rajavi and 16 others are now under investigation for criminal association in relation with a terrorist enterprise and financing terrorism. Eleven were jailed, but the organization filed an appeal in hopes they could be set free.

Police found some US$9 million in cash at the compound. The Mujahedeen Khalq, which seeks to topple Iran's clerical government and has an army in neighboring Iraq, is listed as a terrorist organization by the US and the EU. The army was disarmed by US forces in Iraq in April.

The prosecutor's office argued against freeing any of the 11 people held on the grounds that the move would trouble public order.

France's counter-intelligence agency, the DST, claims the Mujahedeen Khalq was planning attacks on Iranian diplomatic missions in Europe and assassinations of Iranian secret agents in Europe.

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