He Iran regime released the cooperator Belgian Olivier Vandecasteele after almost 15 months detainedin a prisoner exchange facilitated by Omanas reported by senior officials on Friday.
Belgian Prime Minister Alexander deCroo, stated that the 42-year-old had arrived in Oman, adding: “If all goes according to plan, he will be with us this afternoon. Finally free”.
Separately, Oman’s foreign ministry announced that it had helped negotiate a “swap deal” and that an Iranian previously detained in Belgium was on his way to Tehran.
No government has identified the released Iranian, but Tehran has been demanding the diplomat’s release. Assadollah Assadijailed in Belgium for a 2018 plot to bomb an Iranian opposition rally outside Paris.
Belgium has always insisted that Vandecasteele was innocent and his trial was rigged. He was sentenced in January to 40 years in prison and 74 lashes for “espionage”as reported then by the Tehran court.
“Olivier passed 455 days in Tehran jail in unbearable conditions. Innocent,” de Croo said.
“For me, the choice has always been clear. Olivier’s life has always come first. It is a responsibility that I assume, that I accept. In Belgium we do not abandon anyone, ”she specified.
Iran accuses Vandecasteele of collaborating with hostile governments and money laundering. In addition, he was fined the equivalent of one million dollars and sentenced for currency smuggling.
Over the years, Iran has detained a number of foreigners or dual nationals, often sentencing them in secret trials in which human rights groups say defendants are denied the right to due process. Critics accuse Iran of detaining foreigners to use as bargaining chips with the West, which Iranian authorities deny.
(With information from AFP and EFE)
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