Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi Meets Diplomat Assadi Released in Exchange for Olivier Vandecasteele: Latest Updates

2023-08-19 12:00:00

Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi met diplomat Assadollah Assadi who was released in exchange for Olivier Vandecasteele by Belgium in May following spending five years in prison for terrorism, official media announced on Saturday.

The president “went to Mr. Assadi’s home” and “praised his endurance during captivity in European prisons”, announced the website of the Iranian presidency the day following this meeting.

The diplomat, who was stationed in Vienna, was arrested in 2018 in Germany and then sentenced to 20 years in prison for terrorism in 2021 in Belgium, for a planned attack which was to target a gathering of Iranian opponents in France.

Iran secured his release by releasing Belgian humanitarian Olivier Vandecasteele, detained for 15 months for espionage, a charge denounced by Brussels. The decision to proceed with this exchange had aroused criticism in Belgium and in Europe.

After his meeting with Mr. Assadi, President Raïsi criticized European countries: “the so-called defenders of human rights have violated international principles by clearly flouting Mr. Assadi’s diplomatic immunity” . German justice had indicated at the time that the diplomatic immunity of Mr. Assadi was valid only in the country where he was stationed. Iran has released six Europeans in recent months and confirmed on August 10 the release of American prisoners held in Tehran as part of an exchange agreement with the United States.

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