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Austria To Lift Iranian Diplomat’s Immunity Over Alleged Bomb Plot


Iranian President Hassan Rohani in Bern, Switzerland, on July 3

Austria is stripping the immunity of an Iranian diplomat suspected of involvement in an alleged plot to bomb a meeting of exiled Iranian opposition groups in France.

The man would be "deprived of his diplomatic status within 48 hours because of the existence of a European arrest warrant" against him, the Austrian Foreign Ministry said on July 3.

A day earlier, Iran's ambassador in Vienna was summoned to the ministry and asked to help clarify the situation, a statement said.

The diplomat at the Iranian Embassy in Vienna was detained in Germany over the weekend.

Belgium accuses him of being part of a plot to attack a June 30 meeting of the National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI) in the Paris suburb of Villepinte. The Paris-based NCRI is a collection of Iranian opposition groups that backs the overthrow of Iran's clerical leadership.

Five other suspects were detained in Belgium and France, authorities in the two countries have said.

The plot was first revealed by Belgian authorities, who announced on July 2 that they had arrested a husband and wife on June 30 with 500 grams of explosive and a detonation device found in their car

The two suspects, described as Belgian nationals of Iranian origin, were charged with attempted terrorist murder and the preparation of a terrorist offense.

France detained three people for questioning in connection with the case.

The arrests came as Iranian President Hassan Rohani began a trip to Europe.

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif suggested the arrests, which were announced as he and President Hassan Rohani began the trip, were a "false flag" operation.

"How convenient: Just as we embark on a presidential visit to Europe, an alleged Iranian operation and its 'plotters' arrested," Zarif tweeted on July 2.

With reporting by AP and AFP
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