Belgian court suspends prisoner swap deal with Iran

Belgium's Constitutional Court suspended an agreement Thursday on the extradition of an Iranian diplomat who was jailed on terrorism charges. 

"Belgium knows or should know that Iran will not effectively carry out the sentence," the court said in a statement.

The Constitutional Court will make a final decision on whether to cancel the agreement "within three months."


An appeal against the law allowing the extradition of Assadolah Assadi was filed earlier this year at the Belgian Constitutional Court and a first instance court approved the prisoner exchange, local media reported on Oct. 4.

Assadi was sentenced last year by a Belgian court to 20 years in prison for planning a bomb attack at an opposition rally outside Paris in 2018.

Thousands of people attended the June rally, including former US President Donald Trump's lawyer Rudy Giuliani.

According to Belgian daily Het Nieuwsblad, a Brussels court prepared the legal grounds for extraditing Assadi to Iran based on a controversial deal between Brussels and Tehran allowing a prisoner exchange.

The treaty, which was ratified by Belgian lawmakers in June, would enable the return of Belgian aid worker Olivier Vandecasteele, who has been held in Iran since February.

According to critics, the deal would raise concerns if Assadi continued to serve his prison sentence in his home country and might serve as a further ground for Iran to take hostages.

Foiled bombing attack in Paris

The Vienna-based diplomat was involved in a plot to kill leaders of the opposition group National Council of Resistance of Iran in 2018 in France, according to the ruling of the Antwerp court.

Assadi with his three Belgian-Iranian accomplices prepared to explode a bomb during the opposition group’s protest rally near Paris, but the attack was prevented by a coordinated operation of the Belgian, German and French police.

Despite claiming diplomatic immunity, he was arrested in Germany in 2018 while on holiday and extradited to Belgium.

Assadi received 20 years in prison for transporting explosive materials from Iran to Vienna.

His accomplices, a Belgian-Iranian couple who were arrested near Antwerp with 500 grams of TATP explosives and a detonator, were sentenced to 15 and 17 years in prison and were deprived of their Belgian nationality.

Assadi said during their trial that they had been blackmailed by Iran to take part in the terrorist attack.

Iran denied the allegations, accusing the exiled opposition group of preparing a false plot to harm Tehran’s reputation.

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