June 4, 2023

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Belgium releases Assadollah Assadi in a deal brokered by Oman

TERHAN – The foreign ministry of Oman announced Friday that Muscat successfully mediated between Iran and Belgium in reaching a deal on swapping prisoners.

“In compliance with the directives of His Majesty Sultan Haitham bin Tarik, to fulfill the requests of the Iranian and Belgian governments to assist in resolving the issue of detained citizens in both countries, the Omani efforts have resulted in an agreement between the two sides for a mutual exchange deal,” the ministry said in a statement.

The statement added, “The individuals who were released have been transported from Tehran and Brussels to Muscat today, Friday, May 26, 2023, in preparation for their return to their respective countries.”

It concluded, “The Sultanate of Oman appreciates the positive high-level spirit that prevailed during the discussions in Muscat between the Iranian and Belgian sides, and their commitment to resolving this humanitarian issue.”

Belgian Prime Minister Alexander De Croo confirmed the news. He said Iran has released a Belgian prisoner.

Assadi arrived in Tehran on Friday afternoon. He was welcomed by Iran’s human rights chief Kazem Gharibabadi and government spokesman Ali Bahadori Jahromi. 

Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amir Abdollahian said Belgium had released Iranian diplomat Assadollah Assadi. “Mr. Assadollah Assadi, the innocent diplomat of our country, who was illegally detained in Germany and Belgium for five years in violation of international law, is now on his way back to his homeland and will soon enter our dear Iran. I thank the Sultanate of Oman for its positive efforts in this direction,” Amir Abdollahian tweeted before Assadi’s arrival in Tehran.

Belgium released Assadi who had been in prison since 2018. Assadi was detained in Belgium in 2018 over charges of trying to target an Iranian opposition group. He had been sentenced to 20 years in prison.

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.

A senior government official in Tehran said on Friday that the release of Assadi is a victory for the Iranian nation.

Mohammad Jamshidi, the president’s deputy chief of staff for political affairs, said in a post Twitter that the Iranian president had asserted that the first step for “engagement” is the release of the diplomat.

“The freedom of diplomat Assadollah Assadi is a victory for Iranians. As Belgian officials used extreme language in parliament & media, on the phone they spoke of major engagement. Ayatollah Raisi stressed the first step for this is the diplomat’s release. The road is now open,” Jamshidi tweeted.

Original News : https://www.tehrantimes.com/news/485138/Belgium-releases-Assadollah-Assadi-in-a-deal-brokered-by-Oman

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