June 5, 2012
Court Orders State Department to Rule on Petition Challenging Terrorist Designation
A three-judge panel of the D.C. Circuit ordered the State Department on Friday in In Re: People's Mojahedin Organization of Iran to act on the petition of the People's Mojahedin Organization of Iran, PMOI, to delist the organization as a Foreign Terrorist Organization under the Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act.
PMOI originally petitioned the State Department for redesignation on July 15, 2008. PMOI argued that, while it had engaged in terrorist actions in the past, those days were over. PMOI said that it had stopped its military campaign against the Iranian regime, renounced violence, surrendered arms to U.S. forces in Iraq, and cooperated with U.S. officials in Iraq and on Iran's nuclear program.
Secretary Rice denied the petition on January 7, 2009, and PMOI petitioned for review with the D.C. Circuit. The court then ruled that due process required the Secretary to notify PMOI of the unclassified material on which the Secretary proposed to rely and be given an opportunity to respond before re-designation as an FTO. The court remanded to the Secretary to provide that access.
The Departments of State and Justice dragged their feet, and the Secretary has yet to take final action on the petition. (AEDPA requires a final determination within 180 days after receiving the petition.) PMOI filed a writ of mandamus with the D.C. Circuit earlier this year.
The court was highly critical of the government's delays and gamesmanship. (Under AEDPA, a petitioner cannot appeal to the D.C. Circuit until the Secretary issues a final determination. The government's foot-dragging thus left PMOI in limbo.) It gave the Secretary four months to issue a final determination--to which it said it'd give great deference--or it would grant PMOI's writ of mandamus setting aside the FTO designation.
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