FILE PHOTO: An Iranian cleric stands in front of a mural of an American hostage on the wall of the former U.S. embassy in Tehran. REUTERS./

Honourable Alexander De Croo, Belgium Prime Minister

[email protected]

Tel: +32 2 501 02 11
Fax: +32 2 512 69 53July 2, 2022
July 5, 2022

Dear Prime Minister De Croo,

We write you in regard to the disturbing extradition treaty currently pending ratification before the Belgian Parliament. Recently Belgium and the Islamic Republic of Iran (IRI) negotiated a treaty that facilitates the swap of individuals convicted of gross violations of human rights and terrorism charges by Belgian courts in return for the release of individuals arbitrarily arrested and detained by IRI. Should this treaty be adopted by the Belgian Parliament, it would permit Iranians convicted in Belgium to serve the remainder of their sentence in their home country, and vice versa.

As with most other members of the Iranian diaspora dispersed around the world, we are gravely concerned about the Belgian Government agreeing to such a nefarious arrangement, and are certain that the treaty will accentuate IRI’s inclination to arrest dual nationals as bargaining chips with foreign countries and embolden it to undertake further terrorist activities by targeting Iranian dissidents throughout Europe and North America.

The immediate backdrop against which this extradition treaty has been negotiated was a decision rendered by a Belgian court in 2020 that found Assadollah Asadi, an Iranian diplomat accredited to Austria, for having “attempted murder and involvement in terrorism” by attempting to target a gathering of Iranian dissidents in France. Consequently, Asadi was sentenced to 20 years of imprisonment in Belgium. The gathering of criminal evidence that uncovered this plot was made possible by an elaborate intelligence operation coordinated between the security services of France, Germany, Austria, Luxemburg, and Belgium. In an obvious tit-for-tat, unconfirmed media reports suggest that IRI has recently arrested two Belgian nationals in Iran to use as leverage with Belgium for the release of Asadi from prison.

As you are aware, for decades IRI has systematically resorted to the arbitrary detention of foreign and dual nationals so as to leverage innocent individuals as bargaining chips in its hostage diplomacy. The prohibition against the arbitrary detention and imprisonment of individuals is long-established, being expressly banned and outlawed in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights of 1948, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights of 1968, the International Convention against the Taking of Hostages of 1979, and the recent legal instrument referred to as the Declaration Against the Arbitrary Detention in State-to-State Relations of 2020.

We are, therefore, appalled by your government‘s latest effort to award the Islamic Republic of Iran for its morally reprehensible behaviour. Apart from condoning IRI’s practice of hostage diplomacy, your government is turning a blind eye to IRI’s nefarious practice of undertaking intelligence operations to eliminate Iranian dissidents on foreign soil. Schemes orchestrated by the Government of IRI and its proxies to target its perceived enemies for assassination, surveillance and abduction in numerous countries are well documented.[1] Apart from incontrovertible evidence unearthed in the trial of Assadollah Asadi referenced above, the international community is fully aware of recent attempts by agents of IRI to target dissidents, including among others attempts uncovered in Holland in 2015 and 2017, and in Denmark in 2018.[2] Furthermore, as evidenced by accounts publicized by Canadian and American news media outlets, North American has certainly not proven immune from the menace of Iranian intelligence operatives orchestrating elaborate schemes either.3

In light of the disturbing evidence provided above, we would respectfully apprise your government of this grave error and appeal against Belgium entering into an extradition treaty with IRI. Indeed, proceeding with this extradition treaty will encourage IRI to continue its systematic practice of detaining innocent individuals within its borders, embolden it to continue its clandestine terrorist operations beyond its borders on foreign soil, and stand as a testament to other rogue countries that resorting to the opprobrium of similarly sinister practices will be rewarded.

On behalf of Canadians for Democracy in Iran (CDI)

Sincerely yours

Afshin Afshin-Jam, Spokesperson
[email protected]

CC: Ms. Sophie Wilmès, Minister of Foreign Affairs, [email protected]
Mr. Johan Verkammen, Ambassador, [email protected]
Mr. Theo Francken, the leader of the opposition, [email protected]
Ms. Katrien Jansseune, [email protected]