Iranian Diplomat Gets 20 Years in Prison for Role in Paris Bomb Plot

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Belgian authorities sentenced an Iranian diplomat to 20 years in prison on Thursday for his role in a 2018 bomb plot targeting an exiled Iranian opposition group near Paris.

The sentencing was announced as part of “the first trial of an Iranian official for suspected terrorism in Europe since Iran’s 1979 revolution,” according to Reuters.

A court in Belgium found Assadolah Assadi “guilty of attempted terrorism after a foiled plot to bomb a rally of the National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI)” outside of Paris, France, in June 2018, Belgian prosecution lawyers and civil parties to the prosecution said on February 4.

“Assadi and three others sought to kill” top NCRI leaders “during a rally near Paris,” the court ruled. “The plot was uncovered ahead of time by German, French and Belgian police,” according to German broadcaster Deutsche Welle (DW).

Investigators assessed that Assadi “transported the explosives for the plot on a commercial flight to Austria from Iran,” according to Belgium’s federal prosecutor.

“Three Iranians with dual Belgian citizenship were convicted as Assadi’s accomplices. All three have had their Belgian citizenship stripped,” DW reported. Belgian police arrested two of the dual citizens “on the day of the rally while driving from Antwerp with 500 grams (1.1 pounds) of TATP explosives and a detonator. Prosecutors said the couple had received the bomb materials from Assadi for transport to the rally. They were sentenced to 18 years.”

The third dual citizen accomplice received a 15-year prison sentence on Thursday for planning to guide the couple through the rally upon their arrival.

Assadi refused to appear in court throughout his trial, claiming “diplomatic immunity.” He was arrested in July 2018 while vacationing in Germany as part of a Europol sting operation involving several countries. German authorities noted that the Iranian diplomat was staying outside of Austria at the time of his arrest, arguing that his diplomatic immunity as an official at Iran’s Vienna embassy did not apply there. Assadi was later extradited to Belgium.

France said in October 2018 that it believed the Iranian intelligence ministry had been behind the attempted bombing. The French interior, foreign, and economy ministers issued a rare joint statement addressing the foiled plot.

“This extremely serious act envisaged on our territory could not go without a response,” the statement read, adding, “France underlines its determination to fight against terrorism in all its forms, particularly on its own territory.”

Bahram Ghassemi, a spokesman for Iran’s foreign ministry, commented on Assadi’s arrest in 2018, saying German authorities had pursued the diplomat as part of a “staged conspiracy” to sabotage relations between Europe and Iran, DW recalled on Thursday.


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