- A high-placed Iranian embassy official has been ordered to spend 20 years in prison for his part in planning the bombing of a march.
- Assadollah Assadi was sentenced by a court in Belgium on Thursday.
- On July 1, 2018, German police arrested Assadi, a diplomat working at the Iranian embassy in Vienna.
BRUSSELS, Belgium – A high-placed Iranian embassy official has been ordered to spend 20 years in prison for his part in planning the bombing of a march organised by an Iranian resistance group in France in 2018.
Assadollah Assadi was sentenced by a court in Belgium on Thursday.
On July 1, 2018, German police arrested Assadi, a diplomat working at the Iranian embassy in Vienna, in a joint operation between police, the judiciary and security services from Germany, France, and Belgium. Investigations revealed that as a senior Ministry of Intelligence and Security (MOIS) agent, Assadi had plotted an attack on the annual gathering of Iran’s organised opposition, the National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI) in Villepinte, Paris, attended by 100,000 people – according to a letter forwarded to the President of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) last week, signed by forty Members of the assembly, including 5 members of the Irish delegation to the Assembly, headed by Senator Fiona O’Loughlin.
According to the letter, Assadi wanted to implement the plot together with three other Ministry of Intelligence agents who had received asylum and later granted citizenship in Belgium (Amir Saadouni, his wife, Nasimeh Naami and Mehrdad Arefani). While Mrs. Maryam Rajavi, the NCRI’s president-elect was the target of the attack, the event was attended by international political figures, parliamentary delegations and personalities from Europe and around the world. If successful, it would have been the largest terrorist attack on European soil and essentially a massacre, the Assembly Members claimed.
The Belgian National Security Service (VSSE) reported in February 2020 that, “The plans for the attack were developed in the name of Iran at the request of its leadership. Assadi didn’t initiate the plans himself.” The VSSE emphasized that Assadollah Assadi is an MOIS officer working under the diplomatic cover of the Embassy of the Islamic Republic of Iran in Vienna (Austria), according to the letter.
In another report, the VSSE stated that Assadi carried the explosive device on a commercial flight from Iran to Austria. He handed over the explosives to Amir Saadouni and Nasimeh Naami two days before the attack was to be carried out, the Assembly Members wrote.
The letter, forwarded on 27 January 2021, calls for a review of policy toward Iran in all areas.
“While condemning any policy of appeasement and concessions to the Iranian regime, we call for serious and effective measures, including:
- To condition any economic and trade relations with the Islamic Republic of Iran contingent on the improvement of the human rights situation in Iran and an end to the regime’s terrorism on European soil.
- In accordance with a statement by the Council of the European Union dated April 29, 1997, agents and mercenaries of Iran’s intelligence services with diplomatic, journalistic, and economic cover should be tried, punished, and expelled, and centers with a religious or cultural cover promoting terrorism and fundamentalism should be closed. Granting asylum and citizenship to MOIS agents and mercenaries should be a red line.”
Thursday’s court hearing also handed out sentences ranging from fifteen to 18 years to three accomplices, all dual-Iranian-Belgian citizens. The 3 were also stripped of their Belgian citizenship.
The trial, according to media reports, was the first by a European Union country of a terrorism case involving an Iranian diplomatic official since Iran’s 1979 revolution.
By Jay Jackson, Nigeria Sun