Belgium aid worker freed in prisoner swap with Iranian diplomat jailed for bomb plot


Deal to release Olivier Vandecasteele in exchange for Assadollah Assadi raises concerns Tehran’s hostage diplomacy has been rewarded

A Belgian aid worker jailed in Tehran has been released in a prisoner swap with an Iranian diplomat who had been sentenced to 20 years in jail for his role in a plan to bomb an Iranian opposition rally in Paris in 2018.

Assadollah Assadi had served just over two years of his 20-year sentence, and his release will raise questions about whether Iranian hostage diplomacy – the practice of seizing dual nationals as bargaining chips – has been rewarded by the Belgian authorities. The final stages of the deal were negotiated by Oman, but Belgium had been negotiating with Iran over the fate of the diplomat for much longer.

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