PARIS — The French government Saturday forced the leader of a left-wing Iranian opposition group to leave the country in a move interpreted here as a conciliatory gesture toward Tehran and the pro-Iranian kidnapers of French citizens in Beirut. He later surfaced in the capital of Iraq, the war foe of Iran.
Massoud Rajavi, leader of the Moujahedeen organization, had been living in exile in France since July, 1981, and his departure came amid stepped-up French efforts to win freedom for nine Frenchmen kidnaped in Lebanon. The Muslim fundamentalist regime in Iran is thought to have connections with the Islamic Holy War group, which claims to hold four of the hostages.
Rajavi arrived in Baghdad aboard a private plane and was met by a number of senior Iraqi officials, the Iraqi news agency reported. Accompanying him were his wife, who is co-leader of the Moujahedeen, and four companions, French regional police said. It was not immediately known if Iraq was granting Rajavi asylum.
Result of Pressure
Although French police said no expulsion order had been served, it was clear that Rajavi's departure was the result of intense pressure. Premier Jacques Chirac said last month that France would crack down on what he called the "excesses" of Iranian political exiles.