Advertisement

Iran open to prisoner swap with Belgium

FILE PHOTO: Protest against the detention of Belgian aid worker by Iran, in Brussels

BRUSSELS/DUBAI (Reuters) - Iran said on Monday that it was open to a prisoner swap with Belgium after the latter's Constitutional Court upheld an exchange treaty in a case that could see a convicted Iranian diplomat switched for a jailed Belgian aid worker.

Aid worker Olivier Vandecasteele was arrested on a visit to Iran in February 2022 and sentenced in January to 40 years in prison and 74 lashes on charges including spying.

Brussels called that retribution for a 20-year jail term given to Iranian diplomat Assadollah Assadi in 2021 over a foiled bomb plot in the first trial of an Iranian official for suspected terrorism in Europe since Iran's 1979 revolution.

An Iranian foreign ministry spokesperson said the way was now open to execute the prisoner exchange pact. "With the recent development, we hope to see an opening in connection with the case of this diplomat," the spokesperson said.

Belgian lawmakers cleared the treaty in July but it was held up by legal challenges from an exiled Iranian opposition group.

(Reporting by Benoit Vanoverstraeten, Charlotte Van Campenhout, additional reporting by Elwely Elwelly in Dubai; Editing by Andrew Cawthorne)