Will the Belgian government release an Iranian terrorist held in Belgium, in exchange of a university professor sentenced to death in Iran where he has been imprisoned on the basis of forced confessions following suspicions of “espionage for Israel”.
While it has always denied negotiating with Iran this release, Belgian daily newspaper Het Laatste Nieuws wrote that such a negotiation is taking place ”behind the scene” in order to save the life of the professor, Ahmadreza Djalali, a Swedish-Iranian doctor who lectured on emergency medicine at a Brussels university, who is said to be executed very soon.
Djalali’s fate has long been linked to that of Assadollah Assadi, a 49-year-old Iranian diplomat who masterminded a terrorist attack on Iranian opposition members. Assadi is imprisoned in Belgium where he was convicted for recruiting a Belgian-Iranian couple in 2018 to carry out a bomb attack at an important Iranian opposition congress, the large annual gathering of the National Council of Resistance of Iran, in Villepinte near Paris.The couple had been caught on their way to the French capital with a bomb containing one kilo of TATP.
While Asasdi had been sentenced in 2021 to 20 years in prison for plotting the attack, rumors were rife that Iran had offered to “exchange” him for Djalali. But the Belgian government continues to claim that it never considered such a solution.
However, a membr of the Belgian parliament, Michael Freilich, from the Flemish N-VA party, who received information on a possible deal from memers of the Iranian opposition, has questioned the Belgian Foreign Minister and expressly asked for a guarantee that an exchange between Djalali and Assadi would not take place. “This man must not be given a single day of early release,” he said of the terrorist diplomat. “We are talking about terrorism at the highest level,” he said.
”We should never negotiate with terrorists. That will only encourage them to commit more attacks,” he added.
In the reply received by the MP, the Minister reportedly gave no guarantee, saying that there was “no legal framework for a prisoner exchange”.