European court upholds visa ban on Iranian student

Indo Asian News Service

Brussels, April 4 (IANS) The European Court of Justice (ECJ) on Tuesday ruled to uphold a visa ban on an Iranian student who applied to German universities to study "sensitive security topics".

The student had a masters degree from a university that is subject to European Union (EU) restrictive measures, as it supports the Iranian government, and she had received a scholarship for a doctorate in information technology security in Germany, with a particular focus on the security of mobile systems and their protocols, Efe news reported.

"The Court observes in this respect that the collection of confidential information in western countries, internal repression or, more generally, human rights violations are purposes contrary to the maintenance of public security," said the ruling.

According to the ECJ, national authorities have the right to reject visas for public security reasons, though they must state proper reasons for the visas' refusal.

The German government had tried to justify its decision by claiming that the knowledge she could acquire could be later misused in Iran for malicious purposes, such as gathering confidential information in Europe.

The German court that first refused to grant the student a visa consulted with the ECJ to clarify EU countries' scope with regards to rejecting visas for security purposes in a way that would not interfere with the European directive on the promotion of the EU as a world centre of excellence in education.

The ECJ ruling considered that it was up to national authorities to decide whether a visa applicant posed a security threat and the German court would have to decide whether her rejection was justified.

"The German court will have to ascertain whether the decision to refuse the student a visa is based on duly justified grounds and a sufficiently solid factual basis," the ruling added.