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Iranian Diplomat's 20-Year Sentence For French Bomb Plot Confirmed

Assadolah Assadi

An Iranian diplomat's 20-year prison sentence in Belgium for plotting to bomb an opposition rally outside Paris has been confirmed after he dropped plans to appeal.

The confirmation of the sentence came after Vienna-based diplomat Assadolah Assadi dropped his appeal, his lawyers said on May 5.

Assadi was found guilty on February 4 of attempted terrorism after a plot to bomb a rally of the National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI), an exiled opposition group, near Paris in June 2018.

Three other defendants also received jail sentences.

The planned attack on the rally was thwarted by a coordinated operation between French, German, and Belgian security services.

The sentence was strongly condemned by the Iranian government, which repeatedly dismissed the charges, saying the allegations by the NCRI, which Tehran considers a terrorist group, are false.

The NCRI is the political wing of the exiled Iranian opposition group Mujahedin-e Khalq (MEK), an exiled opposition group that is seeking to overthrow the Islamic republic.

Prosecution lawyer Georges-Henri Beauthier said in Antwerp on May 5 that there were guarantees from the Belgium state that there would be no swap of Assadi for Western prisoners in Iran. Beauthier cited a separation of powers between justice and political decisions.

"The Belgian government will not discuss [a prisoner swap]," he said.

Assadi's trial was the first time an Iranian official had been tried for suspected terrorism in Europe since Iran's 1979 revolution.

Assadi was arrested in Germany before being transferred to Belgium for trial. In its ruling, the Belgium court said he was running an Iranian state intelligence network and was acting on orders from Tehran.

With reporting by Reuters and AFP
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