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Exiled Iranian group denies torture claims

ImagePARIS, May 19 (AFP) – An exiled Iranian opposition group Thursday denied charges by a leading human rights organisation that it had tortured dissident members and said the allegations were politically inspired.
The People’s Mujahedeen Organisation said in a statement in Paris that the report by the US-based group Human Rights Watch was nothing more than "a highly politicised invective against the Iranian resistance movement."
In a 28-page report released Wednesday, the rights organisation said the Mujahedeen regularly subjected dissidents who wanted to leave to beatings, torture and prolonged solitary confinement at military camps in Iraq.
The report was based on direct testimony from a dozen former Mujahedeen members, including five who were turned over to Iraqi security forces and held in Abu Ghraib prison under Saddam Hussein’s government.
A rebuttal statement issued by the National Council of Resistance of Iran, an umbrella opposition group which includes the People’s Mujahedeen, said Human Rights Watch had made no attempt to contact the organisation.
It also said the rights group had based its report on inaccurate, outdated and discredited information coming from dissidents whom it said were in many cases working for Iranian intelligence.
"In the four decades of its struggle for democracy, the PMOI has never incarcerated or tortured anyone, even though 120,000 of its own members and supporters have been executed," the statement went on.
"These accusations only serve as a license to the mullahs’ regime to continue the execution and suppression of PMOI members and supporters in Iran."
The Mujahedeen, which is fighting to overthrow Iran’s clerical regime, set up base in Iraq in 1986 and carried out regular cross-border raids into Iran.
The group, which sided with Iraq during its 1980-1988 war against Iran, is listed as a terrorist organisation by the European Union and the United States, but Tehran has accused Washington of failing to act against the organisation.
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