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Court sentences Iranian diplomat, accomplices to prison terms on terrorism charges

Press conference by lawyers and representatives of the Iranian Resistance after a court ruling that sentenced an Iranian diplomat to 20 years in prison on terrorism charges
Press conference by lawyers and representatives of the Iranian Resistance after a court ruling that sentenced an Iranian diplomat to 20 years in prison on terrorism charges

 

Reporting by PMOI/MEK

February 3, 2021—Assadollah Assadi, an Iranian diplomat accused of planning to bomb a meeting of the Iranian opposition National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI) annual Paris rally in 2018, was sentenced to 20 years in prison by a Belgian court in Antwerp this morning.

Nassimeh Naami, Mehrdad Arefani, Amir Saadouni, Assadi’s accomplices in the plot, were respectively sentenced to 18, 17, and 15 years in prison and were stripped of their Belgian citizenship status due to their involvement in the plot.

The court recognized all defendants as criminals who had assembled a terrorist entity. The judge rejected Assadi’s claim to diplomatic immunity.

The judge stipulated that the bomb that Assadi had delivered to Naami and Saadouni to detonate at the event was manufactured in Iran and was carried to Europe in a diplomatic suitcase. Naami and Saadouni had been instructed to place the bomb as close as possible to Mrs. Maryam Rajavi, the president-elect of the NCRI. The judge rejected the couple’s claim that they had acted out of fear and intimidation and presented documents that proved they had been constantly receiving money from Assadi in exchange for information. The judge also rejected Arefani’s claims that he had not been in contact with Assadi.

This historic ruling is a first judicial condemnation of an Iranian regime official for terrorism in the European Union.

The verdict was celebrated by Iranians across the world, who have long suffered from the regime’s terrorist attacks. Simultaneous with the declaration of the court ruling, an online conference was held with participants joining in from more than 3,000 places across the world. Many of the speakers at the event had participated at the 2018 rally and were civil parties to the Assadi case.

In her keynote speech at the conference, Mrs. Rajavi said, “Today’s conviction of the Iranian regime’s diplomat-terrorist confirms the Iranian regime’s state terrorism by a European judicial authority. Iran and the rest of the world have been suffering from this terrorism in the past four decades. The intelligence and foreign ministries and the regime’s embassies were directly involved in this plot.”

 

 

Madam Rajavi reiterated that the bombing plot had been planned and ordered at the highest levels of power in Tehran, and that evidence shows that the regime is engaged in widespread terror and espionage activities through its diplomatic facilities and channels in Europe.

“The time has come for the European Union to take action. Silence and inaction under whatever pretext will only embolden the mullahs’ regime to continue its crimes and terrorism,” Rajavi said. “The Iranian people expect that the EU revise its Iran policy and hold ruling theocracy accountable for terrorism, the flagrant violations of human rights, the massacre of political prisoners, and the mass killing of defenseless protesters.”

 

 

Madam Rajavi ended her speech my giving three key policy recommendations to European leaders:

1.            Recall their ambassadors from Tehran and shut down the regime’s embassies and centers in Europe which are used for terrorism. The mullahs’ foreign minister must be held accountable for the confirmed role his ministry/embassies and diplomat played in a major terrorist crime. 

2.            The entirety of the Ministry of Intelligence and the IRGC must be designated as terrorist entities. All their agents must be prosecuted and expelled from Europe. Europe must not grant refugee-status or nationality to these agents because they use them for terrorism and espionage. 

3.            Prosecute the Iranian regime’s leaders, who are responsible for these terrorist activities. They must face justice.

“Any negotiations with the regime and the return to normal diplomatic-status must be conditional on dismantling the mullahs’ terrorist network in Europe. Firmness is the correct answer to the mullahs’ blackmail and hostage-taking, otherwise they will continue this sinister policy,” Mrs. Rajavi said.

Mrs. Ingrid Betancourt, former Presidential Candidate of Columbia, said, “This is a turning point in history because justice prevailed in spite of the regime’s criminal attempts to avoid justice. This condemnation puts an end to the false narrative that the Iranian regime of the mullahs is a democracy.”

Betancourt also stressed that the judgement has shown that Iran is governed and in the hands of a terrorist organization. “Those who planned to kill us were not isolated lunatics but loyal servants of the Iranian Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei, President Hassan Rouhani, and Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif,” she said.

Ingrid Betancourt, former Presidential Candidate of Columbia

Ingrid Betancourt, former Presidential Candidate of Columbia

 

Betancourt emphasized that the regime had gone to great lengths and taken great risks to attack the rally because of its fear of the Iranian Resistance and the role it plays in undermining the theocratic rule of the mullahs in Iran.

Betancourt also called for a firm European response and echoed Mrs. Rajavi’s call to close down the regime’s embassies. “Zarif has to be held accountable for his crimes. He must understand that he is not welcome in Europe. Our leaders and government must refrain from inviting him to Europe to talk. He should be in jail with Assadi,” she added. “We call on all leaders in office in Europe to support the Iranian people in their struggle to claim back their country. We must recognize the NCRI and its leader Maryam Rajavi as a valid alternative for a democratic transition in Iran.”

Giulio Terzi, Foreign Minister of Italy (2011-2013)

Giulio Terzi, Foreign Minister of Italy (2011-2013)

 

“Justice must be rendered for other instances of the crimes committed by the heinous regime of the mullahs. Justice must be rendered for the execution of political prisoners in 1988 and the killing of political refugees in other countries,” said Giulio Terzi, the former foreign minister of Italy. “Those who appease the mullahs’ regime must be aware that the mask is finally off. The regime is certified as a terrorist state by the court.”

Terzi also called for a firmer policy toward Iran and stressed that Europe’s lack of proper action has emboldened Iran’s regime in its terrorist activities, giving them the impression that they will not be held accountable. “Today is the day for a new approach to tackle the terror regime,” Terzi said.

“The NCRI is an immediate threat to the repressive Iranian regime. It is the largest, best organized and most popular democratic alternative to the regime,” former U.S. Secretary of Homeland Security Tom Ridge said.

Ridge called on countries whose citizens were in harm's way in the 2018 rally to consider downgrading diplomatic relations with Iran in response to the terror attempt. “These countries and their leaders should align themselves with the hopes of the Iranian people for freedom. I would call on them to recognize publicly the National Council of Resistance of Iran as the alternative to the existing regime.”

Tom Ridge, first U.S. Secretary of Homeland Security

Tom Ridge, first U.S. Secretary of Homeland Security

 

“It's time to call Iran for what it is: a terrorist state. It's time to expel their diplomats. It's time that we have a new Iran, that we support the NCRI, we support the 10-point plan of Madam Rajavi, and that we support a new day for all Iranians who can finally be freed of this terrorist regime who terrorizes not only Iranians but the whole world,” said Patrick Kennedy, former Member of the U.S. House of Representatives.

Steve McCabe, British MP for Birmingham Selly Oak, called for tougher measures against Iranian regime leaders. “Terrorists are terrorists, no matter how they dress or call themselves. And they cannot represent legitimate governments, and cannot negotiate with legitimate governments,” he said.

Retired U.S. Army Colonel Wesley Martin reminded the audience that the regime resorts to repression inside the country and terrorist attacks against the opposition whenever it fears a threat to its rule. “The day of justice has come for Assadi and his accomplices. Also indirectly on trial were Khamenei and Rouhani. Unfortunately, their day of justice will have to be delayed until the day of the collapse of their regime,” Martin said.

Stephen Harper, former Prime Minister of Canada

Stephen Harper, former Prime Minister of Canada

 

“This is what the Islamic Republic in Tehran, the world's largest state sponsor of terrorism does,” said former Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper. “And it is no surprise that such actions would be directed against you, the NCRI, which is the regime’s largest opposition, and which works relentlessly to expose its malevolence, its brutality and its crimes.”

Former United States National Security Advisor James Jones underlined that the case shows the regime’s diplomatic apparatus is fully engaged in the regime’s terrorist plots. “Europe and the U.S. must condemn the regime for this act. We should downgrade diplomatic relations, close regime embassies and centers. Hold Zarif accountable for the terrorism of his ministry. Refrain from inviting them to Europe for talks. Anything less will be a sign of weakness that will embolden the regime,” he said.

“Today, the truth, the rule of law, justice, have prevailed over impunity. Impunity has failed. Through this verdict, it’s not only Assadi who has been convicted. It’s the whole regime. The whole regime has been behind crimes against humanity,” said Dr. Tahar Boumedra, former chief of the Human Rights Office of the UN Assistance Mission for Iraq (UNAMI) and legal expert.

Boumedra stressed that the regime must be held to account for its other numerous crimes, namely the 1988 massacre of 30,000 political prisoners in Iran. “Let us not forget that the criminals behind the 1988 massacre remain to be held accountable. And I am sure that in this case too, justice will prevail,” he said.

Dr. Tahar Boumedra, former chief of the Human Rights Office of the UN Assistance Mission for Iraq (UNAMI), legal expert

Dr. Tahar Boumedra, former chief of the Human Rights Office of the UN Assistance Mission for Iraq (UNAMI), legal expert

 

“I am here to ask the European Union to recognize the danger of the Iranian regime, to recognize the diplomats who are stationed throughout Europe, often are simply the security arm of the Iranian regime,” said Linda Chavez, former White House Director of Public Liaison and U.S. expert to the UN Sub-Commission on Human Rights. “They are not true diplomats, they are not coming in seeking peace or dialogue, they are coming to spread terror. And I urge that in order to stop more terrorism from spreading in Europe, that the European Union will act decisively to dissolve the network of agents that hide under the cover of diplomacy within Europe.”

Former U.S. Senator Robert Toricelli stressed that the fight against Tehran’s terrorism does not end with the Assadi case. “The real culprit that should be on trial, Mohammad Javad Zarif, was not there. But he remains guilty,” he said. “First, those nations who have not done so, designating Zarif, designating the ministry as a terrorist enterprise is essential. Sanction it. Call it out for what it is: a terrorist enterprise.”

Struan Stevenson, former Member of the European Parliament for Scotland

Struan Stevenson, former Member of the European Parliament for Scotland

 

“The EU’s appeasement policy is dead in the water,” said former MEP Stuan Stevenson. “The EU will have to reassess completely its relationship with the Iranian regime. The Iranian regime is being led by gangsters who will not hesitate to kill and maim their own people and the people of the world.”

Robert Joseph, the former Undersecretary of State for Arms Control and International Security, touched on the broader impact of the Assadi case on Iran policy in the U.S. “For the Biden administration, the guilty verdict of Assadi and his accomplices should weigh heavily in his review of Iran policy. This active state terrorism should have a sobering effect,” he said, adding that the case should end any move to resurrect the appeasement policies of the past and dispel any false nostalgia about working with Zarif as a moderate influence in the regime.

“If the leaders of free societies fail to hold the perpetrators responsible, including at the highest levels in Tehran, it will only encourage more terrorist attacks and make us complicit in them,” Joseph said.