Iranian President ratifies prisoner exchange treaty with Belgium
Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi ratifies a law on the transfer of prisoners between Tehran and Brussels, permitting it to take effect.
Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi ratified on Sunday a prisoner exchange treaty with Belgium, official media reported.
According to the state news agency IRNA, Raisi "ratified the law on the transfer of prisoners between the Islamic Republic of Iran and the Kingdom of Belgium, permitting it to take effect."
The Belgian House of Representatives approved the treaty on July 20, but an Antwerp court froze, two days later, any possibility to extradite diplomat Asadollah Assadi, who was sentenced last year to 20 years in prison, to Iran.
An Antwerp court convicted Assadi of allegedly supplying explosives for a thwarted 2018 bomb plot that attempted to target an Iranian opposition group meeting outside Paris.
Tehran has demanded that Belgium recognize Assadi's diplomatic status and release him. In mid-June, Kazem Gharibabadi, the Secretary of Iran's High Council for Human Rights, sent a letter to the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, protesting the arrest of Assadi.
Belgian judges in July approved a request from opponents of the prisoner swap treaty to block any attempt to send Assadi home until the decision can be challenged in court.
On its part, the Belgian government indicated that the deal was the only way to release its national Olivier Vandecasteele, who was arrested in Iran in February.
Iran's parliament approved the treaty in August, and late last month another body, which determines whether laws are constitutional, gave its assent before the final step of presidential endorsement.
It is noteworthy that on May 10, the Iranian Foreign Ministry criticized the final ruling issued by a Belgian court to imprison three Iranians on charges of collaborating with Assadi.
Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesperson, Saeed Khatibzadeh, said in a statement that it is alleged that the three are linked to Assadi, who is illegally imprisoned in Belgium.
"Unfortunately, today, under the pretext of holding appeals court for the three foregoing people, we are once again witnessing fabricated lies by Western media about Mr. Assadi, a diplomat of the Islamic Republic of Iran," considered Khatibzadeh.
He also affirmed that Assadi's case is a preplanned scenario acted by the Mojahedin-e-Khalq (MEK) terrorist group with the goal of spreading Iranophobia.