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Cablegate: Iran: Uk Says Legal Basis for Eu Listing of Mek Is

VZCZCXRO5654
PP RUEHAG RUEHBC RUEHDE RUEHDIR RUEHKUK RUEHROV
DE RUEHLO #2060/01 2201419
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
P 071419Z AUG 08
FM AMEMBASSY LONDON
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 9430
INFO RUCNMEM/EU MEMBER STATES COLLECTIVE
RUCNIRA/IRAN COLLECTIVE

C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 LONDON 002060

NOFORN
SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: DECL: 08/07/2018
TAGS: PGOV PREL PTER EU IR FR UK
SUBJECT: IRAN: UK SAYS LEGAL BASIS FOR EU LISTING OF MEK IS
FRENCH INVESTIGATION

REF: A. STATE 83598 B. LONDON (GAYLE) EMAILS JULY 30 AND PREVIOUS TO NEA/IR C. LONDON 1593 AND PREVIOUS Classified By: Classified By: Political Counselor Richard Mills for rea sons 1.4 (b) and (d)

1. (C) Summary: The EU's continued anti-terror listing of the Mujaheddin e Khalq (MEK) depends on the existence of an active French investigation of the group, according to the British Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO). The FCO is uncertain whether the investigation, and the listing, will continue beyond the next listing renewal deadline, in December, but is confident HMG will not be leading on this issue in the EU: FCO underlined for Embassy that MEK supporters in Parliament continue to be well-organized and vocal. British efforts on the MEK issue will focus on reassuring Iranian authorities that the UK, despite MEK court victories, will continue to avoid all contact with the MEK. Numerous sources say Iranian concern over MEK is deep and persistent. End summary.

EU Listing: Based on French Investigation -----------------------------------------

2. (C) In the wake of the delisting of the MEK in the UK (ref c)the legal basis for the EU's continuation of the anti-terrorist listing of the MEK is not any new information on MEK activities but, rather, the existence of an ongoing French investigation of the group, FCO Iran Coordination Group's Bilateral Team Leader Margaret Tongue told London Iran Watcher (Poloff) July 30.

3. (C) Tongue commented the EU's approach, relying on an investigation of unknown length and result, may leave the duration of the EU's continuing prohibition of the MEK indefinite and open-ended.

MEK Allies in Parliament ------------------------

4. (C/NF) Tongue added that the Foreign Secretary had recently been challenged in the House of Commons during question time, by an "MEK-friendly" MP on how the UK had voted in Brussels on the EU's continuation of the prohibition; the Foreign Secretary replied that the UK had abstained. Tongue commented that continuing strong advocacy for the MEK continues in the Commons among those MPs who had submitted the 2006 petition which had ultimately resulted in the MEK's July de-listing under UK domestic law.

5. (C/NF) In previous conversations Tongue has noted the strength and persistence of the core group of MP's in the House of Commons ("perhaps twenty") who regularly advocate for the MEK. Tongue has said HMG, having fought the UK domestic listing through the courts and lost, based on court findings that the MEK has indeed changed its terrorist principles, will not press for re-listing of the MEK under UK law. She said HMG's posture in Brussels, in the absence of dramatic, convincing and publicly shareable evidence of any recent MEK terrorist activity, will be to abstain on MEK votes; she agreed leadership on the issue in the EU has in effect been conceded to Paris.

UK Trying to Soothe Tehran on MEK ---------------------------------

6. (C) Tongue has consistently said HMG, having lost the legal battle, will focus its anti-MEK efforts on policy. Foreign Secretary Miliband publicly stated in the wake of the MEK's UK court victory that HMG believes the MEK has blood on its hands; Miliband said HMG does not regard the MEK as a credible interlocutor on Iran or democracy. Tongue adds that the UK's private, bilateral efforts will continue to reassure Iranian officials of the sincerity of the HMG position on the MEK, but noted HMG believes Tehran's concerns and "paranoia" about the MEK will remain high for the indefinite future.

7. (C) Tongue commented that the high level of anxiety generated in the regime over the MEK's actual relationships to western governments could conceivably negatively impact Iranian official stances on other priority issues; she did not elaborate.

Comment -------

8. (C) Although many Iranian expat and expert contacts dismiss the MEK, usually as too widely despised within Iran LONDON 00002060 002 OF 002 to be credible, they uniformly reinforce that the Tehran regime perceives, even fears, the MEK as a significant threat. For example, an Iranian political scientist and civil society organizer recently returned to the UK from a working visit to Iran, where he had been briefly detained by authorities, told Poloff on August 6 that the recurring focus of his interrogations, by several IRI entities, had been whether he had any contact with the MEK and whether he knew of HMG contact with the MEK. The scholar added that major Tehran dailies had, while he was in Iran, given major front page coverage to an interview with UK Ambassador Geoffrey Adams, focusing on his views of the MEK's "true" relationship with western governments. Visit London's Classified Website: XXXXXXXXXXXX
TUTTLE

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