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German Court OKs Extradition To Belgium Of Iranian Diplomat Suspected In Bomb Plot


A German court has approved the extradition to Belgium of an Iranian diplomat arrested on suspicion of terrorism.

Assadollah Assadi was based in Austria before his July detention in Germany, where a court said on October 1 that his diplomatic immunity did not apply.

"The suspect cannot cite diplomatic immunity because he was on a several-day holiday trip outside of his host state, Austria, and not travelling between his host country and the state that dispatched him," the Superior Regional Court in the Bavarian city of Bamberg said in a statement.

It was not immediately clear when Assadi, who was accredited as a counsellor at the Iranian Embassy in Vienna, would be handed over to Belgian authorities, who accuse him of being part of an alleged plot to bomb an Iranian opposition rally in France.

The man will be held in a German prison until then.

Belgian authorities accuse Assadi of being part of an alleged plot to bomb an Iranian opposition rally in France.

Iran has denied the existence of any such plot, with Deputy Foreign Minister Abbas Araghchi saying the allegations “aimed at damaging EU-Iran relations."

Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Bahram Qassemi on October 1 criticized the German court decision, saying, "We hope that the German government promptly realizes the realities in this case and sends the diplomat back to Iran," according to the semiofficial ISNA news agency.

A total of four Western European countries -- France, Belgium, Austria, Luxembourg, and Germany -- are so far involved in the story of the alleged plot.

On June 30, Iranian opposition supporters gathered in the Paris suburb of Villepinte for a rally of the National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI), a Paris-based umbrella bloc of opposition groups that back the overthrow of Iran's clerical leadership.

That day in Brussels, law enforcement authorities apprehended two Belgian nationals of Iranian origin -- a husband and wife -- with 500 grams of explosive and a detonation device found in their car.

The two were described as Belgian nationals of Iranian origin known as Amir A. and Nasimeh N.

Meanwhile, French police detained an alleged accomplice of the pair, identified as Merhad A., in the French capital. He was also described as a Belgian national of Iranian descent.

And Assadi was taken into custody on July 1 near the Bavarian city of Aschaffenburg on an European arrest warrant.

German prosecutors allege that Assadi is an intelligence agent who met in late June with the husband and wife team in Luxembourg, where he handed the couple the explosives.

His arrest triggered diplomatic protests, with the Austrian Foreign Ministry summoning the Iranian ambassador in Vienna, and the Iranian Foreign Ministry summoning envoys from France, Germany, and Belgium.

With reporting by AP, dpa, AFP, and the BBC
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