Belgian freed after prisoner exchange
Dhe Belgian development worker Olivier Vandecasteele is in prison after more than a year Iran released in a prisoner exchange. He is currently on his way to Belgium, the Belgian Ministry of Foreign Affairs announced on Twitter on Friday with.
Belgium initially gave no details about the release. The Omani Foreign Ministry spoke of a prisoner exchange in which they mediated. It was initially unclear who Vandecasteele was exchanged for.
At least 16 Western nationals detained in Iran
The Iranian news agency Tasnim reported, citing unspecified sources, that in return the diplomat Assadollah Assadi should be released. The prisoner swap with the Iranian convicted of terrorism charges is controversial. Assadi was sentenced to 20 years in prison in 2021 for an attempted attack on a meeting of Iranian opposition figures in France. The development worker Vandecasteele was accused of espionage and cooperation with the archenemy USA as well as money smuggling in Iran.
Human rights groups see the case as an example of Iranian “hostage diplomacy”. At least 16 Western citizens are currently being held in Iran, most of whom also have Iranian passports.
This includes the German-Iranian Jamshid Sharmahd. The Iranian judiciary only confirmed the death sentence against 68-year-old Sharmahd at the end of Aprilfor whose release the federal government is committed.