France Defends round-up of Mojahedin
PARIS, June 29 (Reuters): France's interior minister on Sunday defended raids earlier this month on the offices of an exiled Iranian opposition group, saying France would not become a "stomping ground for any terrorist organisation".
French police rounded up about 160 sympathizers of the People's Mujahideen in the raids and has put seven of them, including the leader of its political arm Maryam Rajavi, under formal investigation for possible links to terrrorism.
Several suitcases stuffed with $100 bills totaling more than $8 million were seized, with computers and files belonging to the main armed opposition group to Iran's Islamic leaders.
"Eight and a half million dollars in cash. Is that normal for people who do not work?" Interior Minister Nicolas Sarkozy told Europe 1 radio.
"If one of the people out there listening had as much as one percent of the cash we found in the coffers of the People's Mujahideen, they would have serious problems with the police and would have to justify themselves," he added.
The United States and the European Union say the People's Mujahideen is a terrorist group.
French intelligence services believe the group has been beefing up its Paris base to make it a global centre from which to launch attacks on Iranian embassies in Europe -- something the group denies.
"France will not allow itself to be a stomping ground for any terrorist organisation," Sarkozy said.
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