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Belgium obtains the release of three Europeans detained in Iran


The Islamic Republic of Iran released, on Friday June 2, three new foreign or binational detainees incarcerated in its prisons, two Iranian-Austrians and a Dane. A Belgian defense medical plane from Oman arrived in Brussels overnight with the three prisoners on board. The Belgian authorities say they obtained these releases as part of a negotiation aimed at obtaining that of Olivier Vandecasteele.

He was released on May 26 after spending fifteen months in prison. He was accused by the Tehran regime of “espionage”, which earned him a 40-year prison sentence. The humanitarian worker had been exchanged in the capital of the United Arab Emirates with Assadolah Assadi, the “diplomat” who was serving a 20-year prison sentence in Belgium for having organized the plan to attack an Iranian opposition meeting in France, in Villepinte (Seine-Saint-Denis), in 2018.

Belgian Prime Minister Alexander De Croo, present with his counterparts in Chisinau at the meeting of the European Political Community, had informed them, Thursday evening, of the success of the negotiations conducted with Tehran. A long and complex discussion which, underlines his entourage, had always wanted to favor a European approach, in order to obtain other releases.

“A diplomatic marathon”

The two Austrians are Massud Mossaheb, 76, an engineer and secretary general of the Austria-Iran association, and Kamran Ghaderi, an Iranian-Austrian businessman, arrested in 2016 upon his arrival in the country. Accused of espionage, the two men were sentenced to ten years in prison. Massud Mossaheb benefited from a temporary release from prison because of his poor state of health since the beginning of the year.

Denmark had still not communicated overnight from Friday to Saturday on the identity of its national. We only know that he was arrested in November 2022, during the demonstrations which followed the death of Mahsa Amini, which occurred in September 2022. The head of Danish diplomacy, Lars Lokke Rasmussen, welcomed this release, praising in particular “huge effort” from Belgium. “It was a diplomatic marathon that finally paid off”underlined, for its part, the Austrian Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

“To our knowledge, this is the first time that a State of the European Union has obtained the release of citizens of another State”, Belgian government sources said on Friday. They would have pulled off a two-part agreement on May 18, without having, they say, the certainty that they would finally obtain the release of Mr. Vandecasteele, then that of the three other Europeans.

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