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Belgium faces suspicion over a possible "exchange" of prisoners with Iran

2022-07-05T13:12:04.407Z

Belgium revealed on Tuesday July 5 that one of its nationals had been “illegally” detained in Iran for four months, when...



Belgium revealed on Tuesday July 5 that one of its nationals had been “

illegally

” detained in Iran for four months, when a heated debate was taking place in Parliament on a bilateral treaty for the transfer of convicts between Brussels and Tehran.

In Iran, “

there are human lives at stake, these are not my words, these are those of our security services

”, declared the Belgian Minister of Justice Vincent Van Quickenborne, announcing this arrest which took place on February 24. .

“Unlawful deprivation of liberty”

This Belgian citizen, whose identity he did not specify, was arrested for an alleged "

spying offence

".

But "

there is not the slightest proof, for us it is an illegal deprivation of liberty

", added this Flemish liberal official.

According to Belgian media, the imprisoned man is a humanitarian official from the Tournai region (west).

He runs an aid program for Afghan refugees on Iranian soil for the NGO Relief International.

In agreement with the family, the Minister of Justice revealed this arrest at the start of a debate before a parliamentary committee on a Belgian-Iranian treaty for the transfer of convicts, a text that the executive wishes to have ratified urgently.

But this treaty has been controversial for several days.

Read alsoThe EU condemns the eight-year prison sentence imposed on an activist in Iran

Iranian opponents in exile believe that it paves the way for the surrender to Iran, and a possible pardon, of the diplomat Assadollah Assadi, sentenced in Belgium in 2021 to 20 years in prison for terrorism.

The text is "

tailor-made for Mr. Assadi

," centrist MP Georges Dallemand told AFP.

Other opposition politicians have denounced "

blackmail

" from Iran, "

unacceptable pressure

", while several Europeans are detained in this country.

Planned an attack

Assadollah Assadi, Iranian intelligence agent acting in Europe under diplomatic cover, was found guilty on February 4, 2021 by the court of Antwerp (north) of having fomented an attack project on June 30, 2018 in Villepinte, near Paris .

This explosive attack foiled in extremis by the Belgian anti-terrorist justice was to target a gathering of the National Council of Iranian Resistance (NCRI), a coalition of Iranian opponents whose main component is the People's Mojahedin Organization (MEK).

And for the NCRI, of which a hundred sympathizers demonstrated Tuesday morning near the Belgian Parliament, the Belgian-Iranian treaty signed on March 11 will "

facilitate the return

" of Assadollah Assadi.

This text, a copy of which was obtained by AFP, stipulates that "

the best way

" to strengthen criminal cooperation is to allow convicts to "

suffer their sentence in their original social environment

", and therefore to be transferred to their country if they have been punished by the other signatory party.

“A shame for all governments”

In Article 13, we can read that “

each party may grant pardon, amnesty or commutation of sentence in accordance with its Constitution or other legal provisions

”.

These provisions will allow Tehran "

to grant amnesty to convicted persons, pardon them or reduce the sentences pronounced against them

", NCRI lawyers, including Frenchman William Bourdon, protested on Monday.

"

Transferring a terrorist to the state in whose name and on whose behalf he wanted to blow up a peaceful gathering with tens of thousands of participants in Europe is a disgrace for all governments

", they castigated.

Mr. Van Quickenborne swept aside these concerns on Tuesday, assuring that the text included “

guarantees

”, and “

does not oblige (does) in no way

” the signatory States “

to accept a transfer request

”.

Read alsoIran: justice says it excludes an exchange of prisoners with Sweden

For four years, Belgium has also expressed concern to Iran about the situation of Dr Ahmadreza Djalali, an Iranian-Swedish academic sentenced to death for espionage, who was a visiting professor at the Flemish University of Brussels (VUB).

The NGO Amnesty International estimated in mid-May that Mr. Djalali was "

hostage

" to Iran and served as a "

pawn

" for Tehran, which would seek to exchange him for two Iranian executives including Assadollah Assadi.

Source: lefigaro

All news articles on 2022-07-05

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