Iran says it wants to move ahead with Belgium prisoner swap

Iran expresses its readiness for a long-awaited prisoner swap with Belgium, days after the European country’s Constitutional Court gave the green light for such a move.

Following the decision “by the Belgian Constitutional Court, we can now say that the way to implement the agreement has been opened, and the Islamic Republic of Iran certainly welcomes this change,” foreign ministry spokesman Nasser Kanani tells reporters in Tehran.

The move would see Belgian aid worker Olivier Vandecasteele — sentenced in Iran to 40 years in jail for several charges including spying — swapped for Iranian official Assadollah Assadi who was convicted in Belgium for masterminding a plot to blow up a 2018 opposition event outside Paris.

Under a treaty Belgium and Iran signed in 2022, Vandecasteele would have been eligible to be swapped for Assadi but in December Belgium’s constitutional court suspended the implementation of the treaty. That suspension was lifted Friday.

“We have stated that he (Assadi) must be released unconditionally, compensation must be paid, and a commitment should be given not to repeat such actions,” Kanani says, adding that “with the recent change, we hope to see an opening regarding the diplomat’s case.”

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