A former Iranian diplomat has been sentenced to 20 years in prison by a Belgian court for his part in a bomb plot targeting Iranian dissidents in Europe.

Asadollah Asadi was today found guilty of attempted terrorism linked to plans to bomb an event hosted by the National Council of Resistance of Iran – the political arm of the Iranian opposition group Mujahedin-e Khalq (MEK) – near Paris in June 2018.

The disgraced Vienna-based diplomat refused to appear in court. His lawyer Dimitri de Beco said his client believed he ought to be protected from prosecution by diplomatic immunity. In fact, Asadi had been stripped diplomatic immunity by Austria after he was first arrested on holiday in Germany in 2018.

Two other defendants have also been jailed for 15 and 18 years respectively over the planned attack, which was thwarted in a joint operation French, German and Belgian security services.

On June 30, 2018, Belgian police officers had been tipped off by intelligence services about a possible attack against the NCRI’s annual meeting. They stopped a couple travelling in a car that was found to contain 550 grams of explosives and a detonator.

Some 25,000 people had gathered in the French town of Villepinte that day. The Belgian bomb disposal unit said the device was of “professional quality”, and could have caused a sizable and fatal explosion.

French officials said Asadi was in charge of intelligence in southern Europe and acting on orders from Tehran. For its part the Islamic Republic has dismissed the charges as a “false flag” operation. 

Related coverage:

Verdict on Iranian Diplomat to Take Place in Belgian Court Next Week

Iranian Ex-Diplomat to Face Trial for Foiled Bomb Plot in Paris

Unprecedented Remarks by an Iranian Diplomat about Terrorist “Rogue” Elements in Europe

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