An EU court has struck off the Palestinian Islamic militant group Hamas from the bloc's list of terrorist organizations. It said the 2001 listing was influenced by the media and the internet.
In removing Hamas from the list, the General Court of the European Union said the group's listing in 2001 was not based on hard evidence confirmed by authorities.
"In today's judgment, the General Court finds that the contested measures are based not on acts examined and confirmed in decisions of competent authorities but on factual imputations derived from the press and the internet," #link:http://curia.europa.eu/jcms/upload/docs/application/pdf/2014-12/cp140178en.pdf:the court said#.
The court decided to keep in place an asset freeze against Hamas for three months, "in order to ensure the effectiveness of any possible future freezing of funds."
It said the decision was based on procedure and did not address the "question of the classification of Hamas as a terror group."
The EU included Hamas on its terror list in late 2001. The group, which now runs Gaza, has long contested the classification.
The EU defines groups on its blacklist as having committed a series of serious crimes, such as kidnapping or murder, for the purpose of damaging a country by intimidating the population and "destabilizing or destroying its fundamental political, constitutional, economic or social structures."
A spokeswoman for the EU's executive arm, the European Commission, said the bloc still considered Hamas to be a "terrorist" group.
"The EU continues to consider Hamas a terrorist organization," Maja Kocijancic said. She added that the EU would consider its response to the ruling, including whether to appeal.
jr/jm (dpa, AFP, AP)