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Belgian Aid worker Regains Freedom



Belgian Aid worker Regains Freedom

An Iranian diplomat imprisoned in Belgium, Asadollah Assadi, and a Belgian aid worker jailed in Iran, Olivier Vandecasteele, were freed on Friday in an exchange mediated by Oman, both sides said.

Assadi was the third-ranking official in Iran’s embassy in Vienna, Austria. He was arrested in Germany, accused of plotting to bomb an Iranian rally organized by the exiled opposition group known as the Mojahedin-e-Khalq in Paris in 2018.

A criminal court in Antwerp oversaw Assadi’s case along with three accomplices. In February 2021, the court in Antwerp rejected Assadi’s diplomatic immunity and sentenced him to 20 years in prison.

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Aid worker Vandecasteele had been arrested on a visit to Iran in February 2022 and sentenced in January to 40 years in prison and 74 lashes on charges including spying.

Belgian and Iranian authorities had rejected the charges against Vandecasteele and Assadi, respectively, as fabricated.

Oman’s foreign ministry said prisoners were released and transported from Brussels and Tehran to Muscat, the Omani capital, on Friday in preparation for their repatriation.

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“As I speak, Belgium’s Olivier Vandecasteele is on his way to Belgium. If all goes to plan, he’ll be with us this evening. Free at last,” Belgian Prime Minister Alexander De Croo said in a statement Friday.

Hammed Tajudeen is a graduate of Osun State Polytechnic, Iree with Higher National Diploma (HND) in Mass Communication


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