Belgium takes first step for releasing Iranian diplomat

July 6, 2022 - 21:44

TEHRAN — The Belgian parliament adopted the first step toward ratifying a pact with Iran on Wednesday, that could allow an Iranian convicted in Belgium to be returned to Tehran.

The deal clears the way for the release of Assadollah Assadi, an Iranian who was wrongfully convicted in Belgian courts and sentenced to 20 years in prison.

Belgian Justice Minister Vincent Van Quickenborne defended the deal to Belgian MPs on Tuesday, stating that "human lives are at risk."

This week, Belgian media revealed that a Belgian national had been imprisoned in Iran since February.

The accord may also open the path for a future political agreement with other Europeans imprisoned in Iran.

Despite initial reservations from MPs from the governing coalition, the parliament's foreign affairs committee voted in favor of the treaty on Wednesday, clearing the path for its passage by the whole house next week.

The proposed pact has been criticized in the United States.

The chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Bob Menendez, advised Belgium not to give Assadi immunity.

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