Europe

Iranian Diplomat, Suspected in Paris Terror Plot, Extradited to Belgium

An Iranian diplomat linked to a foiled terror attack that targeted a rally organized by an Iranian opposition group near Paris in June has been extradited to Belgium from Germany, security officials said Tuesday. The rally was attended by high-profile figures, including close allies of United States President Donald Trump.

Radio Free Europe reported that the Iranian diplomat, who worked for Tehran’s mission to Austria, was handed over on October 9 and will appear before the Belgian judge in charge of the case on Wednesday, October 10. France announced last week it had frozen the suspects’ assets for six months.

Previously identified as Assadollah Assadi, the 46-year-old Iranian official was arrested in the southern German state of Bavaria on July 1. In total, six people were detained afterwards in coordinated raids by European police forces, tipped off by Israel’s Mossad intelligence agency.

Assadi had reportedly recruited a married couple – Belgian citizens of Iranian heritage – who were in a Mercedes car when they were stopped by special forces and arrested in Woluwe-Saint-Pierre, close to the EU headquarters in Brussels. According to officials, police found 500 grams of TATP explosive and a detonator hidden in a toiletries bag.

Belgian authorities have also requested the extradition of a man identified as Merhad A., believed to be an accomplice of the married couple. The suspect, also an Iranian national, was arrested in Paris when the bomb plot was uncovered.

French security services said the Iranian intelligence ministry was behind the foiled attack. A joint statement from France’s interior, economic, and foreign affairs ministries, said: “A planned bomb attack was foiled at Villepinte on June 30. This extremely serious attack that was to take place on our territory cannot go without a response.”

Iran denied the allegations, which it described as a conspiracy to “sabotage Iran’s ancient and long-standing relations with France and other significant European countries.” However, European security officials confirmed that Assadi, since 2014, had been accredited to the Iranian Embassy in Vienna, where he was working for Iran’s intelligence agency, which monitors opposition groups in the country and abroad.

In August, the first round of renewed U.S. sanctions on Iran entered into effect as part of Washington’s strategy to apply “maximum pressure” on the Islamic Republic over its illicit nuclear and non-nuclear activities. A second round of sanctions, targeting Iran’s energy sector, will take effect on November 5.

[Photo: Simay Azadi TV / YouTube ]