Europe

Iran diplomat extradited to Belgium from Germany over MEK bomb plot in France

An Iranian diplomat linked to an alleged bomb plot against an Iranian opposition rally in France has been extradited to Belgium from Germany, prosecutors said on Tuesday, October 9.

The Vienna-based Iranian, who has previously been identified as Assadollah Assadi, was handed over and will appear on Wednesday before the Belgian judge in charge of the case, Wenke Roggen, a spokesperson for the Federal Prosecutor’s Office told AFP.

A court in southern Germany ruled on October 1 that Assadi could be extradited to Belgium, Reuters reported previously.

Belgian authorities in July requested the extradition of both Assadi and a man identified as Merhad A., who was detained in Paris.

Belgian police believe Merhad A. is an accomplice of a husband and wife team caught in Brussels in possession of 500 grams of the powerful explosive TATP and a detonator.

All three are Belgian nationals of Iranian origin.

Last week, France froze the assets of suspected Iranian intelligence operatives Asadi and Saeid Hashemi Moghadam, as well as Iran’s ministry of security and intelligence following an alleged plot to bomb the Iranian opposition group People’s Mujahedeen of Iran (Mojahedin-e Khalq, MEK) in the Paris suburb of Villepinte in June.

Asadi is one of six people were arrested in connection with the plot in coordinated raids by European police forces, including a couple who were arrested in a Brussels suburb who were suspected of preparing to drive a car packed with explosives to the French rally.

Iran has denied any involvement in the alleged bomb plot and said the MEK had orchestrated the plot to discredit Iranian President Hassan Rouhani as he embarked on a tour of Europe.

The foiled attack was to have targeted a meeting of thousands of Iranian opposition supporters which was also attended by leading U.S. figures, including close allies of President Donald Trump.

Trump’s personal lawyer Rudolph Giuliani, spoke at the June rally, which 32 other former U.S. officials and military leaders attended. Former speakers for the MEK include John Bolton, now the U.S. National Security Advisor.

The MEK was formed in 1965 to overthrow the Shah of Iran and it continues to organize opposition to the current leaders of the Islamic republic who took power following the 1979 revolution. Opponents of the MEK say the group has little support in Iran. The group was listed as a terrorist organization in the European Union until 2009 and in the United States until 2012.

MEK’s leader Maryam Rajavi lives in France, and many of its other members live in a large compound in Albania where they were relocated by the United States from a camp in Iraq.


With reporting from AFP

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