Belgian parliament adopts treaty with Iran that could lead to the release of a convicted terrorist

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Belgium’s parliament has ratified a treaty with Iran that sets the stage for a prisoner swap that could allow a convicted Iranian terrorist to go free.

“The Iranian Resistance strongly condemns the approval of the disgraceful agreement with the mullahs’ regime and considers it to be the greatest incentive for the ruling religious fascism in Iran to intensify terrorism and use hostage-taking as as possible,” Maryam Rajavi, the president-elect of the National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI), said in a statement after the vote.

The statement comes after 79 of the 131 Belgian MPs present voted in favor of the treaty which was approved by the parliament’s foreign affairs committee on July 6, paving the way for a deal that could see the release of Assadollah Assadi, a Iranian sentenced to 20 years. – years in prison in Belgian courts for a bomb plot that targeted a gathering of opponents of the Iranian regime in France.

The deal will also pave the way for the release of Belgian humanitarian Olivier Vandecasteele, who has been in Iran since February.


People gesture and wave old flags of Iran as they demonstrate outside the criminal court in Antwerp during the trial of four people, including an Iranian diplomat and a Belgian-Iranian couple in Antwerp.
(Photo by DIRK WAEM/BELGA/AFP via Getty Images)

But parts of the treaty, which allow Belgians convicted in Iran to serve their sentences in Belgium and Iranians convicted in Belgium to serve their sentences in Iran, were more controversial, including a provision that allows each country to grant amnesty. to his prisoners. Assadi, a former Iranian diplomat, should be quickly released.

Rajavi believes the deal “further encourages terrorism and hostage-taking” by Iran, saying the NCRI “will continue to examine all political and legal avenues and options to prevent the extradition of a terrorist diplomat to Iran”.

“Any resettlement of criminals responsible for terrorism and human rights violations, without serving a legally mandated sentence, is intended to encourage and offer ransom for terrorism and human rights violations and violation of laws international conventions and UN Security Council resolutions,” Rajavi said.

Belgian Prime Minister Alexander De Croo was unconvinced by critics of the treaty, arguing it was vital to bring home an innocent Belgian citizen.


“What are you telling his family, that we’re going to let him rot in his cell?” De Croo said last week. “Belgium does not abandon its citizens.”

The treaty was also celebrated by Vandecasteele’s family, who called it a “good decision” despite the potential release of a convicted terrorist.

“It’s never a fair trade with a terrorist, but it’s also not fair to keep an innocent man in prison,” said Olivier Van Steirtegem, a representative for the family, according to Politico.

But Francois De Smet, who leads Belgium’s opposition Challenge party, warned that the treaty would have “terrible repercussions on the reputation of our country and the safety of our citizens”.

“Belgium is sending the message that its justice is for sale,” he said on Twitter.

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