MEK Iran: Assadi and His Three Accomplices Sentenced to Long Prison Sentences in Belgium
Steven Erlanger, a writer for the New York Times reports on the verdict of a Belgian court handed down on Thursday the 4th of February 2021, that has convicted Assadollah Assadi, Iran’s Vienna-based diplomat on a charge of organizing a bomb attack in Paris in June 2018.
Assadi sentenced to 20 years in prison
He has been sentenced to 20 years in prison. The case received media attention not just because if the attack had been successful it could have been one of the most horrendous terrorist attacks on European soil, but because Assadi’s defense that he had diplomatic immunity was rejected.
Assadi remains the first Iranian diplomat, perhaps the first diplomat to be arrested, charged, and convicted of a criminal offense in Europe.
The decision is an embarrassment for the Iranian regime, which is trying to persuade the Biden administration to re-engage with the 2015 nuclear deal originally engineered by president Obama together with EU governments.
Diplomatic immunity has been rejected by the court
The Iranian Foreign Minister, Mohammad Javad Zarif, had originally called for Assadi’s release saying that he had ‘diplomatic immunity’ and that the whole episode was nothing more than a ‘false flag’ operation engineered by the Iranian opposition movement to embarrass the Iranian government.
The bomb attack in fact was deliberately aimed at assassinating the leadership of the National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI), but the Iranians involved were prevented from carrying out the attack because their activity had been under scrutiny from anti-terrorist forces in Europe.
Assadi was based at the Iranian embassy in Vienna and had brought 550g of explosive into Austria concealed in his diplomatic bag on a flight from Tehran.
Clandestine terrorist activities across Europe
Assadi movements and activities had been watched for some time as it had been obvious that he was using his position at the Embassy to supervise clandestine terrorist activities across Europe. He also had a strong connection with the Ministry of Intelligence and Security in Iran, long known to have a very dubious reputation.
Assadi was under surveillance as he made his way to Luxembourg where he handed over the explosive and detonator together with the cash to the Iranian Belgian couple who were to actually plant the bomb close to where the NCRI President-elect, Mrs. Maryam Rajavi, was to make a speech at the NCRI’s Free Iran Rally at Villepinte near Paris.
Assadi’s 3 accomplices all arrested and received long prison sentences
The two accomplices were arrested as they were on their way in a car to Paris. Another accomplice who had been paid to check that the bomb attack went ahead was arrested soon after and Assadi himself was arrested in Germany on his way back to Austria.
Assadi’s three accomplices all received prison sentences between 16 and 18 years each, while their Belgian citizenship was stripped from them.
Belgian prosecutors said that operation directed by the regime in Tehran
Belgian prosecutors said that there had been clear evidence that the attack had been planned and coordinated all along by the regime in Tehran and not by the NCRI or its main constituent group, the People’s Mojahedin Organization of Iran (PMOI / MEK Iran), as claimed by Zarif.
Prosecutors said that Assadi was an agent of Iran’s Department 312, which is listed as a terrorist organization by the EU.
The abridged version of an article written by Steven Erlanger for the New York Times.