MEK Iran: Brussel’s Remains Firm in Decision to Imprison Assadi Despite Regime Pressure
The Belgian parliament held a Foreign Affairs Committee hearing on Tuesday, nearly a month after the conclusion of a terrorism trial involving Assadollah Assadi, a high-ranking Iranian diplomat. The hearings raised serious doubts about whether and how Brussels intends to pursue accountability from the Iranian regime.
Diplomat-Terrorist sentenced to 20 years in prison
The National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI), and the People’s Mujahedin of Iran (PMOI / MEK Iran), reported that On 4 February, Assadi was sentenced to 20 years in prison by a criminal court in Antwerp, while his three co-conspirators were given 15, 17, and 18 years. Their sentences were for their roles in the 2018 foiled plot to set off explosives at an annual gathering by the National Council of Resistance of Iran near Paris.
Two of the co-conspirators were an Iranian-Belgian couple, who were found in possession of the bomb intended to be used in the attack as they attempted to cross the border. Another accomplice was arrested while infiltrating the target venue. Assadi was arrested a day after this in Germany and was promptly extradited to Belgium.
Terrorist action was ordered by the regime’s leadership
The investigation also revealed that this network was not a stand-alone organization established exclusively by Assadi, but rather had close ties with the Iranian Ministry of Intelligence and Security throughout the operation.
The nature of the regime is such that no action is taken without authorization from the regime’s leadership. Prosecutors in Assadi’s case made it known that the French terror attack was directed by high-ranking officials and carried out in the name of the regime.
The suspects were a terrorist group within the MOIS
The committee chairman, Els Van Hoof, said “The court considers the suspects to be a terrorist group within the MOIS.”
“They had been summoned several times to travel to Tehran and were engaged in gathering information, finding targets, and organizing effective attacks on events. In addition, according to the ruling, the Iranian regime has never distanced itself from the attack,” He continued.
Diplomatic relations with the Iranian regime should be suspended
Michele de Vaucouleurs, a member of the French National Assembly, declared in the aftermath of Assadi’s conviction that “Diplomatic relations with the Iranian regime should be suspended and only restored after a democratic transition takes place,” in order to prevent the regime from repeating their terrorist actions.
The Iranian regime’s threats will not deter Brussels
Belgian Foreign Affairs Minister, Sophie Wilmès, on the other hand, made it clear that the Iranian regime’s threats will not deter Brussels. The hearing focused on Iranian efforts in the past and present to link the Assadi case to Western nationals who have been imprisoned in Iran.
Djalali was taken, hostage
Wilmès specifically highlighted the case of Ahmadreza Djalali, an Iranian-born medical researcher who holds Swedish citizenship but was previously employed in Belgium as well.
Djalali was moved to solitary confinement in November, right around the time that Assadi was first put on trial, ostensibly as a symbol of his execution.
The threat to his life was thought to be part of an effort to persuade Belgian authorities to release Assadi or downgrade his charges, but Brussels quickly retaliated by threatening to sever diplomatic and trade ties with Syria.
Wilmes reaffirmed Brussel’s position at Tuesday’s hearing, stating that “For Belgium, these are two completely separate cases.” However, she continued, “that, of course, does not diminish our concern for Mr. Djalali’s fate.”
However, by separating the two issues, Brussels appears to be signaling its intention to use methods other than prisoner swaps or related concessions to protect Djalali and others.
However, it is unclear what those other methods are, and whether they include the sanctions and other high-pressure tactics advocated by critics of the Iranian regime, such as the International Committee for the Search for Justice, considering Assadi’s terrorism conviction.