Citing threat of exclusive attack, France bans Iranian opposition rally – document

By John Irish and Juliette Jabkhiro

PARIS (Reuters) – France has banned an upcoming Iranian opposition rally because of the risk of an attack, according to a letter sent to organizers and seen by Reuters, after the release of an Iranian diplomat found guilty of orchestrating a plot to bomb the group in 2018.

The ban comes as Western powers seek to defuse tensions with Iran and weeks after Tehran released several Europeans from jail, including two French nationals. French President Emmanuel Macron held a 90-minute call with Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi on June 10.

The Paris-based National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI), the political arm of the People’s Mojahedin Organization of Iran (PMOI), has held frequent rallies in the French capital over the years, often attended by d former American, European and Arab personalities. critical leaders of the Islamic Republic.

In February, the NCRI drew several thousand people to an event in central Paris, and is planning its annual gathering for July 1.

However, given a recent wave of mass anti-government protests in Iran over the death of a 22-year-old woman while in police custody, a “tense backdrop” has developed, posing ” very significant security risks” for NCRI rallies, said the document, a letter from Paris police chief Laurent Nunez.

Therefore, “this meeting, organized every year since 2008, cannot be held…”, reads the letter, addressed to the organizing committee of the NCRI gathering.

In response to an investigation, Paris police issued a statement to Reuters confirming that they had informed the committee of the decision to ban the gathering because it could “generate public disorder due to the geopolitical context”.

“Furthermore, given that the terrorist risk cannot be overlooked, holding such an event would make its security but also that of sensitive guests extremely complex,” the statement said.

A senior NCRI official condemned the decision when asked about it by Reuters, ahead of police confirmation.

“If the French authorities take such a position, it will represent a brazen disregard for democratic principles, yielding to blackmail and hostage-taking by the ruling religious tyranny,” said Shahin Gobadi, a member of the Foreign Affairs Committee of the NCRI.


Mahsa Amini’s death in custody sparked months of nationwide protests, prompting Tehran to accuse the United States, its Western allies and Israel of exploiting the unrest to try to destabilize the Islamic Republic.

Thousands of rallies of support have taken place around the world since his death in September, although nationwide unrest subsided after Iranian security police cracked down on them.

To ease rising tensions, the US has been in talks with Iran to outline measures that could limit Iran’s disputed nuclear program, release some detained US citizens and unfreeze some Iranian assets abroad, according to Iranian officials. and Westerners.


Nunez’s letter places the July 1 NCRI rally in the context of the failed plot led by Vienna-based Iranian diplomat Assadolah Assadi in October 2018 and three others.

Assadi, who French officials say ran an Iranian state intelligence network and acted on orders from Tehran, was sentenced in Belgium to 20 years in prison in 2021. He was traded in May for four Europeans detained in Iran.

“This attempted attack, which underlines the operational attack capabilities of the PMOI, is part of a series of violent and deadly operations in France and in Europe, in the form of assassinations and kidnappings of personalities of the Iranian opposition,” the letter said, without giving details.

“Partner countries have in this regard recently mentioned numerous planned violent attacks, potentially targeting Iranian opposition figures.”

Nunez also said in his letter to the NCRI that since the group’s gathering would attract several hundred important foreign dignitaries and MEK members from abroad, “securing the event would be particularly complicated”.

There have been three attacks on an NCRI building in a Paris suburb since late May, the letter says, and these are being investigated. Two sources familiar with the investigation said gunfire, petrol bombs and other incendiary devices were used to target the building. We didn’t know who was responsible.

The letter said there was also a high risk of conflict between the NCRI and rival Iranian opposition groups at the rally, although there had been no incidents at previous rallies.

Tehran has long called for a crackdown on NCRI activities in Paris, Washington and the Saudi capital Riyadh. The group, whose sources of funding and support are unclear, is regularly criticized by Iranian state media.

(Reporting by John Irish; editing by Mark Heinrich)

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