Action memorandum 039

Oct. 9, 1998

French Imprison Iranian Opposition Activist


The French government has imprisoned an Iranian oppositionactivist in Paris, Mr. Ahmad Fahimi (a/k/a/ Khosrow), on libelcharges filed by the Islamic Republic of Iran's French embassy and bythe Paris resident of the Iranian intelligence service.

This extraordinary action, unprecedented in Europe or the FreeWorld, constitutes an unacceptable attack on the statute of politicalrefugees, and has clearly been taken by the French government as afavor to the Tehran regime.

Mr. Fahimi was apprehended in Paris on September 18, 1998 by theFrench counter-intelligence service, the DST (Direction de laSurveillance du Territoire), and was held incommunicado until October6. He has been on hunger strike since his arrest. After 22 days injail, his life is now in danger.

Mr. Fahimi is the French representative of the Organization of theIranian People's Fedayeen Guerrillas, a left-wing group which hasrenounced the use of violence and opposes the Tehran regime throughpolitical means. Several years ago the group infiltrated an Iraniangovernment bank in Paris, the Bank Sepah, and published documentsfrom the bank's archives which exposed the embarrassing extent ofgovernment-to-government cooperation between Paris and Tehran.

Mr. Fahimi met regularly with the DST in Paris as the group'sdesignated liaison officer to the government of France. He wasarrested on Sept. 18 during a pre-arranged meeting with DST officersin Paris.

The Foundation has sent official inquiries to the Government ofFrance, which until now have remained without a reply, as to thecharges against Mr. Fahimi. While we expect that the Frenchgovernment will attempt to indict Mr. Fahimi of common criminaloffenses, the fact that no indictment has yet been announced is anindication of the French government's bad faith, which the Foundationdeplores.

The French government has been putting pressure on the People'sFedayeen Guerrillas for more than three years, following the exposureby the group of 14 Iranian regime agents operating under Embassy andcommercial cover in Paris. A lawsuit by the group seeking the arrestof regime intelligence operatives in France was accepted by a Pariscourt in July 1998.

French Foreign Minister Hubert Védrine visited Tehran inAugust, preparing the way for a state visit to France by PresidentKhatami in November. The Foundation has reason to believe that Mr.Fahimi's arrest was requested by the Tehran government during Mr.Védrine's visit, as a gesture of "good faith" by the Frenchgovernment.

While understanding the difficulties France has had in welcomingpolitical refugees from the Middle East, the Foundation deplores thislatest French action, which runs contrary to the public commitmentsby the French people and by successive French governments todemocracy and to the cause of freedom.

France still prides itself as the author of the UniversalDeclaration of Human Rights. By this action, the current governmentof France raises serious questions as to its commitment to thestandards France herself contributed to creating some 200 yearsago.

The Foundation for Democracy in Iran is a private, non-profitcorporation registered in the State of Maryland. Contact: Kenneth R.Timmerman, Executive Director. Tel: (301) 946-2918. Fax: (301)942-5341. FDI materials, including the FDI Newswire, are availablefree-of-charge via the Internet at