Belgium must not send back to Iran a former diplomat convicted over a failed bomb attack as it would make a mockery of EU rule of law when relations between the West and Tehran are strained, according to a letter sent by former European prime ministers.

Twenty-one former European prime ministers and ministers sent a joint appeal to Belgian Prime Minister Alexander De Croo on Wednesday, urging his government not to send back Assadollah Assadi who is currently serving a 20-year prison sentence for terrorism and attempted murder.

According to the letter, sent by the International Committee in Search of Justice (ISJ), Assadi’s release is expected to result from a treaty between Belgium and Iran which states that “each Party may grant pardon, amnesty or commutation of the sentence in accordance with its Constitution or other laws.”

On 4 February 2021, Assadi, a diplomat who worked with the Iranian dissident movement, the “National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI)”, was sentenced for a failed bomb attack at a rally outside of Paris on 30 June 2018, organised by a Iranian militant opposition group living in exile.

The letter stresses that Assadi’s sentence would not continue in Iran, as Iranian authorities have publicly said that they do not recognise “the decision to convict Assadi by the Belgium court.”

It would be delusional to believe that Assadi would carry out the remainder of his sentence in Iran and “make a mockery of the rule of law in Europe,” the ministers said.

The letter also points to the situation’s hypocrisy as Tehran has “arrested innocent Westerners on spurious charges and has exploited their plight as a bargaining chip to gain concessions from Western countries.”

Iranian state-run media have criticised Assadi’s arrest, saying he was framed.

The letter ends with a final plea in which the ministers write that “at a minimum, Brussels must make it absolutely clear that the treaty will not apply to terrorists” and that Assadi must stay in Belgium for the remainder of his sentence or for “the sake of the common safety and security of all European nations.”

Tensions are rising between the EU, US and Iran over a nuclear deal with no end in sight and several cyber attacks on Western allies, including Albania. The US government has levied two packages of sanctions against Tehran and linked entities and individuals in the last week.

Source » euractiv