Belgian Aid Worker Released in Prisoner Swap With Iran

Olivier Vandecasteele was held for almost 15 months


Iran reportedly has released Belgian aid worker Olivier Vandecasteele in a prisoner swap between the two countries.

Belgian Prime Minister Alexander de Croo said Vandecasteele was on his way home "after 455 days in prison in Tehran in unbearable conditions,” according to the BBC.

Vandecasteele was given a 40-year sentence in January after a court convicted him of espionage.

The government of Oman said that it had helped facilitate the prisoner swap.

Neither government identified the freed Iranian, but Tehran has been demanding the release of diplomat Assadollah Assadi, jailed in Belgium over a 2018 plot to bomb an Iranian opposition rally outside Paris, France 24 reported.

A United Nations Human Rights report released in January demanded Vandecasteele’s release.

“We believe Mr Vandecasteele has been arbitrarily deprived of his liberty and is a victim of enforced disappearance for periods of detention,” a UN panel of experts said.

“His right to a fair trial before an independent and impartial tribunal has been violated. These are flagrant violations of Iran’s obligations under international law.”

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