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The fears among the Iranian opposition of a treaty between Brussels and Tehran for the extradition of detainees

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A Belgian-Iranian treaty on the extradition of detainees has raised concerns among Iranian opposition representatives in Europe, who considered it “specially designed” to pardon an imprisoned Iranian diplomat in Belgium after being convicted in 2021 for terrorism.

In February 2021 the court of Antwerp (North) sentenced the diplomat, Asdallah Asadi, to twenty years in prison, mainly for “terrorist assassination attempts”.

The court concluded that Assadi was the main instigator of the planning of a bomb attack that was supposed to be targeted on June 30, 2018, the annual meeting of the National Council of Resistance of Iran, in Villepinte, near Paris. This council is a coalition of Iranian opponents, of which the People’s Mujahideen Organization (Khalq) is a major component.

The Iranian National Council of Resistance, which was a civilian party in the trial, fears that Asadi will be extradited in Iran if the Belgian parliament approves a text presented to it by the government, underlining that this text “will facilitate the return” of Asadi.

The text refers to the bilateral treaty signed “in Brussels on 11 March 2022” between the Belgian Ministry of Justice and the Iranian ambassador in Brussels, Gholamhossein Dehghani, according to a copy obtained by the AFP.

The text will be discussed, starting from Tuesday morning, in a parliamentary commission, and could be put to a vote starting Thursday, according to a source in Parliament. The treaty was included in a bill along with four other international texts, including treaties for judicial cooperation with India and the United Arab Emirates.

The Belgian-Iranian treaty states that the “best way” to strengthen criminal cooperation is to allow detainees “to face their punishment in their original social environment” and then be extradited to their country if punished in the other signatory state.

Shame on all governments

Article 13 of this treaty states that “the parties may grant amnesty to convicts, release them or commute their sentences”.

Today, Monday, the Belgian agents of the “National Council of Resistance of Iran”, Georges-Henry Poitier, Ric Vanroseel and Frenchman William Bourdon protested, saying that this article “would allow the Islamic Republic of Iran to forgive, release or reduce the sentences handed down against the condemned “.

And in a joint statement by the three lawyers states that “the extradition of a terrorist to a state he intended to detonate in his name and on his behalf a peaceful gathering attended by tens of thousands of people in Europe, it is a shame for all governments “.

And the centrist Belgian opposition MP, Georges Dalmani, considered this text “detailed according to an Asadian analogy”, even though the government “will present it as a humanitarian operation” in connection with the arrest of many Europeans in Iran.

When Asadi was sentenced on February 4, 2021, lawyer Poitier expressed his fear of “great Iranian pressure” that could be exerted to “compromise” a prisoner exchange, while receiving the case of a convicted Iranian-Swedish academic. to death in Iran for being convicted of espionage. , great sympathy in Belgium.

Jalali was sentenced to death in 2017 on suspicion of spying on Israel’s behalf and providing information to its intelligence service (Mossad) about two Iranian nuclear scientists who contributed to their assassination between 2010 and 2012.

Jalali, who lived in Stockholm where he worked at the Karolinska Institute of Medicine, was arrested during a visit in Iran in 2016.

In February 2018, while in detention, Sweden granted him Swedish citizenship.

A spokesman for the Belgian Minister of Justice, Vincent van Quekenborn, confirmed that “for the Belgian government, it has nothing to do with the Jalali case”.

“The minister will make his point tomorrow, Tuesday,” spokesman Edward Landscher said, starting at 10:00 (0800 GMT) before the deputies of the foreign relations committee “on the scope of the treaty with Iran.

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