Middle East

Iran says ready to pardon hundreds of exiled dissidents

Iraqi and Iranians protest in the northeastern Iraqi city of Baquba, the capital of the province of Diyala, on November 18, 2011, calling on the government to have the residents of the Ashraf camp deported and the camp closed. AFP PHOTO/STR

TEHRAN: Iran is ready to pardon hundreds of members of an exiled Iranian opposition group based at a former military camp near Baghdad, Iran's ambassador to Iraq told the Mehr news agency on Wednesday.

"After conducting investigations, 423 members (of the People's Mujahedeen Organisation of Iran - PMOI) who do not have any legal problems can return to Iran," Hassan Danaeifar was quoted as saying.

The number represents about 14 percent of the estimated 3,000 members of the PMOI who are living in exile at Camp Liberty, near Baghdad airport.

"Iran is ready to pardon those members who did not kill anyone or do not have complaints against them," he said, without elaborating.

Danaeifar added that a bid by "a considerable number of this group who wish to come back to Iran was blocked by their leaders".

The leftwing PMOI was founded in the 1960s to oppose the shah of Iran.

After the 1979 Islamic revolution that ousted the shah it took up arms against Iran's clerical rulers and Tehran holds it responsible for murdering thousands of Iranian civilians and officials.

The group set up camp in Iraq during Saddam Hussein's war with Iran in the 1980s, but was disarmed after the US-led invasion of Iraq in 2003 toppled Saddam.

Today's Shiite-majority and Iran-friendly government in Baghdad is eager to see it move elsewhere.

In 2012, the United State removed the group from its terror blacklist. The move was strongly condemned by Iran.

Scores of PMOI members have been killed in more than a dozen attacks on their camps since US troops withdrew from Iraq at the end of 2011.

Mehr meanwhile also quoted Danaeifar as saying that Iranian Justice Minister Mostafa Pour-Mohammadi will travel to Iraq later this month to sign several memoranda of understanding, including the extradition of criminals.





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