Belgian legislators have approved a prisoner exchange treaty with Iran. Opponents fear that it will result in the release of an Iranian diplomat on terror charges last year in relation to a plot to attack an Iranian opposition rally. 2018.
The treaty was signed by both countries in March, which allows for the release from detention of citizens held by opposing governments. Belgium’s parliament must ratify the deal.
The measure cleared the Foreign Relations Committee of Belgium’s lower house of parliament Wednesday. It is likely to be up for a final vote in the full chamber within the next few weeks.
U.S. legislators have urged Belgian officials to reject the agreement with Tehran, citing fears that it will result in the release of Assadollah Assadi.
Assadi was a diplomat who worked for Iran’s embassy at Austria. He was sentenced by a Belgian Court to 20 year imprisonment. This is because he attempted to attack a Paris rally hosted by the National Council of Resistance of Iran. The group opposes Iran’s regime.
On Tuesday 13 U.S. House Members signed a letter asking Alexander De Croo to reject any Iranian ‘diplomats” to trade terrorists to detained Belgians .”
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The letter was signed by Republican Reps. Randy Weber and Louie Gohmert of Texas, Lance Gooden and Brian Babin, and Jake Ellzey, of California. Sheila Jackson Lee from Texas was the sole Democrat who signed the letter.
Chairman, U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee Robert Menendez (New Jersey Democrat) voiced opposition to the agreement in a tweet late Tuesday.
” The Belgium-Iran Treaty must maintain Belgium’s international obligations & can not grant impunity for Assadollah Asadi or any other person responsible for human rights violations & heinous acts terrorism,” Menendez stated. Iran must be accountable for supporting terrorism and taking hostages for leverage
Supporters of the treaty believe a compromise is essential to allow for the release of Iranian citizens held in Belgium.
The Justice Minister of Belgium Vincent Van Quickenborne stated to parliament that “human life is at risk .”
” If the bill isn’t fully approved, there will be an increase in the danger to Belgian interests as well as certain Belgian citizens,” he stated.