September 24, 2023

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Iran has signed prisoner swap deal with Belgium: Judiciary

TEHRAN – Masoud Setayeshi, the spokesman for Iran’s Judiciary, said on Wednesday morning that Iran and Belgium have already signed a prisoner swap deal and that it will be implemented.

Setayeshi said the deal includes the swap of Asadullah Assadi with a Belgian spy. 

Speaking at a press conference, the spokesman said, “The agreement on the exchange of convicts between Iran and Belgium has been concluded and finalized and its documents have been exchanged.”

He added, “The opposite party had made a request in this regard and we have also requested the release of Mr. Asadullah Asadi. After the formalities, Mr. Asadullah Asadi will be exchanged with the Belgian spy and released.”

Recently, Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi spoke by phone with Belgian Prime Minister Alexander De Croo.

They discussed “the latest status of judicial interactions and cooperation between the two countries and ways to speed up the implementation of relevant agreements,” according to a readout by the official website of the Iranian presidency.

Referring to the 130 years of relations between the two countries, Raisi called for developing interactions and cooperation between the two countries in various fields of science, technology and agriculture.

Raisi also called on European countries to stop supporting and sheltering terrorist and separatist groups in their countries.

De Croo, while expressing his satisfaction with the understandings reached between the two countries on mutual cooperation, emphasized the importance of developing and strengthening relations between the two countries in various fields.

Assadi was detained in Belgium in 2018 over dubious charges. He is currently serving a 20-year jail term in Belgium.

In June 2018, Belgian officials said that two persons in Belgium received homemade bombs from an Iranian diplomat after Belgium’s police had stopped a vehicle carrying the contraband. He was charged of preparing an assault against the terrorist group Mujahedin-e-Khalq (MKO), which the Iranian government vehemently denies.

In March 2023, a plea for the revocation of a treaty with Iran that permits the exchange of prisoners between Iran and Belgium was rejected by the Constitutional Court of Belgium. The court said that it had rejected the annulment request made by the MKO.

According to the treaty, Iranians found guilty in Belgium might spend their sentences at home, and vice versa.

The treaty can result in the release of Iranian diplomat Assadollah Assadi, who has been unjustly detained in the European country. 

Iran’s Foreign Ministry vehemently denounced the jail sentence against Assadi, calling it wholly illegal, a breach of diplomatic immunity, and a manipulation of Belgium being by the MKO.

“Unfortunately, Belgium and some other European countries have taken such illegal and unjustifiable actions against Assadi under the influence of the atmosphere that has been created by the hostile MKO terrorist group on Europe’s soil,” the ministry said at the time. 

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