Belgian Parliament to facilitate prisoner exchanges with Iran

The Belgian parliament is due to examine next week a draft law on the exchange of convicts with Iran, which could facilitate a prisoner exchange with the Islamic Republic.

A treaty between Iran and Belgium, which was signed in March, was presented to parliament on June 29 for approval.

If approved, it will potentially result in the deportation to Iran of Iranian diplomat Asadollah Assadi, who was sentenced to 20 years in prison for orchestrating a failed terror attack in Europe.

Iranian dissidents have raised alarm on social media that the deal would mean the Islamic Republic could send agents to target its critics in Belgium and, if caught and convicted, Brussels will send them home to serve their sentences , because Iran can easily arrest a Belgian on false charges to arrange an exchange.

Assadi, 50, a former attaché at the Iranian Embassy in Austria, was convicted of plotting to bomb a rally of the exiled opposition group Mujahedin-e Khalq Organization (MEK) near Paris on June 30, 2018.

The Iranian diplomat – never brought to justice in Europe for direct involvement in terrorism – was arrested in Germany, where he did not enjoy diplomatic immunity, while on vacation. German authorities then extradited Assadi to Belgium.

Iranian officials say there is no plans to exchange EU citizens detained in Iran including Ahmadreza Djlali (Jalali), a Swedish-Iranian doctor whom Iran says it will soon execute for spying for Israel, along with Iranians detained in EU countries like Assadi or Hamid Nouri, who face imprisonment in life in Sweden for his role in the prison executions of the 1980s.

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