Belgian Aid Worker, Iranian Diplomat Freed In Prisoner Swap

(MENAFN- Khaama Press)

Belgian aid worker Olivier Vandecasteele, who was detained for 15 months in Iran, were freed on Friday in an exchange mediated by Oman, officials said.

Following his release on Friday, the 42-year-old Belgian was met by his parents, sister, and other family members on the tarmac of the military facility in Melsbroek near Brussels.

He was freed in a prisoner exchange for an Iranian diplomat convicted of terrorism.

Assadi was the third-ranking representative for Iran in the Austrian capital of Vienna. He was detained in Germany on suspicion of planning to bomb an Iranian protest in Paris in 2018 that the Mojahedin-e-Khalq, an exiled opposition movement, put on.

Assadi's case, along with that of three accomplices, was overseen by an Antwerp criminal court. The Antwerp court rejected Assadi's diplomatic immunity in February 2021, and he was given a 20-year prison term instead.

Aid worker Vandecasteele had been detained while travelling to Iran in February 2022 and was subsequently found guilty of spying and given a 40-year prison term along with 74 lashing in January.

Authorities in Belgium and Iran had deemed the accusations against Vandecasteele and Assadi, respectively, to be false.

“Olivier spent 455 days in prison in Tehran in unbearable conditions. Innocent,” Belgium's Prime Minister Alexander De Croo said following news of his release.

“For me, the choice has always been clear. Olivier's life has always come first. It is a responsibility that I take upon myself that I accept. In Belgium, we do not abandon anyone,” he stated, Without mentioning the prisoner swap.

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