Officials report that on Friday in Oman, Belgium and Iran swapped prisoners; the Iranian ambassador was convicted of trying to attack a gathering of exiles in France for a Belgian humanitarian worker. Oman’s Foreign Ministry did not specify which inmates were being exchanged in its original announcement. Olivier Vandecasteele, the relief worker, was liberated later on Friday, according to a statement released by Belgian Prime Minister Alexander De Croo. The release of Assadollah Assadi, an Iranian diplomat, was later reported on official television.
Foreign Ministry of Oman: “those released were transferred from Tehran and Brussels to Muscat today, Friday, in preparation for their return to their countries.” The statement went on to say that “the sultanate of Oman appreciated the high positive spirit that prevailed in the talks in Muscat between the Iranian and Belgian sides, and their keenness to settle this humanitarian issue.” De Croo said on Friday that Vandecasteele had been sent to Oman on Thursday evening. Diplomats and military officials from Belgium met with him, and medical professionals checked him out.
For 455 whole days, Olivier was locked up in a Tehran jail. Under intolerable circumstances. innocuous,” as De Croo put it. The return of Olivier Vandecasteele to Belgium comes as a welcome relief. A sigh of relief from his loved ones and coworkers. Oman has been the Western world’s go-to mediator with Iran for years.
After a secret trial in January, Iran convicted Vandecasteele of espionage and sentenced him to a lengthy prison term and 74 lashes. He was also hit with a $1 million fine. According to Amnesty International, Vandecasteele was arrested in Iran in February 2022 while he was about to leave the country. He had previously worked in Iran with the Norwegian Refugee Council and Relief International from 2015 to 2021.
Iran has been accused of using political prisoners as bargaining chips by its critics in the West. Protests and economic distress have recently hit Iran as a result of Western sanctions over the country’s rapidly
Many foreigners and dual nationalities have been jailed in Iran throughout the years on charges of espionage or other violations of state security, and they have been sentenced in secret trials at which rights groups believe they were denied due process.
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