Belgian aid worker released in exchange for Iranian diplomat who was imprisoned for bomb plot

Iran ambassor

An Iranian ambassador who had been sentenced to 20 years in prison for his part in a plot to attack an Iranian opposition protest in Paris in 2018 was exchanged for a Belgian relief worker who had been imprisoned in Tehran.

Also Read – Ministers of the Saudi economy and planning meet with Belgian authorities

With little over two years remaining on his 20-year term, Assadollah Assadi’s release may prompt inquiries about whether the Belgian government has benefited from Iranian hostage diplomacy, which involves using dual nationals as leverage. Oman negotiated the final terms of the agreement, but Belgium and Iran had been in talks about the diplomat’s whereabouts for much longer.

Belgian Prime Minister Alexander De Croo, who stated the charity worker had been transferred to Oman for medical examinations with Belgian diplomatic employees, verified Olivier Vandecasteele’s release after his detention in February 2022.

“Olivier was imprisoned in Tehran for 455 days. under uncomfortable circumstances. Innocent,” wrote De Croo. “It is a comfort that Olivier Vandecasteele is back in Belgium. A relief for his loved ones, friends, and coworkers. De Croo provided a lengthy written statement, but omitted to disclose the cost of Vandecasteele’s release.

Long-time charity worker Vandecasteele was found guilty of espionage in a closed-door trial and given a harsh jail term as well as 74 lashing. Additionally, he received a $1 million fine.

The trade is particularly contentious because Assadi was found guilty and given a 20-year jail sentence by Belgian judges in 2021 for planning a bomb plot against an Iranian dissident organization exiled in France.

Assadi was connected to a couple who were detained by Belgian police in a Mercedes in 2018 and discovered to be in possession of 550 grams (1.21 pounds) of TATP explosives and a detonator, according to prosecutors working with French detectives. They had planned to attack a Mujahedeen-e-Khalq (also known as the National Council of Iranian Resistance) event that was taking place in Villepinte.

The device was given to Amir Saadouni and his wife, Nasimeh Naami, at a meeting in a Pizza Hut restaurant in Luxembourg two days before their detention, according to the prosecution, who claimed that Assadi had smuggled the explosives into Austria from Iran on a commercial aircraft.

Also Read – UN raises a quarter of $1 bn Turkey earthquake funds target

The next day, Assadi was detained in Germany since he was on vacation and outside the nation where he had been stationed, making it impossible for him to claim diplomatic immunity.



Raven Ruma is a professional journalist with a keen eye on domestic and foreign situations. His favorite pastime is to keep the public informed about the current situation through his pen and he is fulfilling this responsibility through the platform of Arab News.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *