A Belgian court has lifted a ban on the extradition of diplomat and convicted terrorist Assadollah Assadi to Iran, news agency Belga reported on Tuesday.
The ruling paves the way for a controversial prisoner exchange for Belgian aid worker Olivier Vandecasteele, detained in Iran since last February.
The exchange was part of the Belgian-Iran agreement that has drawn major criticism.
Last July, the Belgian parliament voted in favour of the prisoner exchange agreement in spite of public outcry.
That same month, opponents secured a provisional transfer ban for Assadi in a Belgian court.
The transfer ban was not extended on Tuesday; however, the ruling can still be appealed.
Critics charge the Belgian government with surrendering to the autocratic Iranian regime and leaving the country open to future blackmail.
In 2021, a Belgian court sentenced Assadi to 20 years for his role in a plot to attack a meeting of an organisation opposed to the Iranian regime in France.
Assadi was accredited as a diplomat at the Iranian embassy in Vienna at the time of the crime and was described as the operational leader of the plan in an official court statement.
The further controversy relates to Assadi’s and his accomplices’ links to the Iranian Ministry of Intelligence, Iran’s intelligence agency, MOIS, according to the investigations leading to their conviction.
MOIS is tasked with observing and fighting opposition groups in Iran and abroad, leaving open the possibility the attack in France was planned on a direct state order. (dpa/NAN)