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France to Expel Members of Anti-Khomeini Group

December 07, 1987|United Press International

PARIS — Authorities today arrested several dozen members of an Iranian group opposed to the regime of the Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini and ordered them expelled from France, the Interior Ministry said.

A spokesman for the group, the Moujahedeen Khalq, charged the arrests were part of Prime Minister Jacques Chirac's efforts to normalize relations with Iran in hopes Iran will pressure pro-Iranian kidnapers to free three French hostages in Lebanon.

Iran has long wanted France to crack down on the Moujahedeen, the largest Iranian opposition group whose military wing has claimed a series of successes in fighting Iranian soldiers inside Iran.

The Moujahedeen leader, Massoud Rajavi, was expelled from France more than a year ago, but the group has maintained a large organization in the Paris suburb of Auvers-sur-Oise.

The Interior Ministry said in a statement that early today several dozen Iranian citizens belonging to the organization in the Paris region were arrested. It said they were "responsible for militant actions that seriously disturb the public order" and were subject to expulsion.

The development was the latest in several moves by the government to satisfy Iranian demands for a normalization of ties between the two countries. The process was begun following the freeing of two French hostages in Lebanon Nov. 27.

Relations were severed July 17 with the refusal of an Iranian interpreter, Wahid Gordji, to leave the Iranian Embassy in Paris to answer questions about a series of terrorist bombings in Paris.

That prompted the "embassy war" between the two countries. Gordji was released Nov. 29 and exchanged the following day for a French diplomat trapped in his embassy in Tehran.

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