by Soeren Kern
- A Belgian court has temporarily prohibited the Belgian government from exchanging an Iranian diplomat convicted of terrorism for a Belgian citizen being held in Iran on dubious charges of espionage.
- The court’s ruling represents a potential blow to a controversial new prisoner exchange treaty, which critics say will embolden the Iranian government to step up its practice of taking foreigners hostage to pressure Western countries into making concessions.
- The treaty has angered those who argue that it would grant impunity to Iranian agents such as Assadi and have accused the Belgian government of caving in to “odious blackmail.” It has been variously described as: “frightening appeasement,” “a green light to terrorists,” and “very short-sighted,” “dangerous,” “outrageous,” “a sign of weakness,” “a stunning mistake,” and “a deal with the devil.”
- “If the Belgian government proceeds with this treaty, Iran’s regime will further turn Europe into a roaming ground for its terrorists, targeting not just Iranian dissidents but others also, as Tehran is essentially being told that it won’t pay a price.” — Ramesh Sepehrrad, Organization of Iranian American Communities, July 5, 2022.
- “With the knowledge that prisoner swaps are an easy option, Tehran will now instruct more ‘diplomats’ and other operatives to engage in terrorism…. Europe must recognize that, ultimately, the only sustainable path to having a stable relationship with Iran is to support the Iranian people’s democratic aspirations.” — Cameron Khansarinia and Kaveh Shahrooz, Politico, August 1, 2022.
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