By: Alejo Vidal-Quadras
On July 28, the Brussels Court of First Instance issued an order to prevent the Belgian Government from undertaking any covert or overt operation of extraditing Iranian agents until new legal hearings be held on September 19.
Though temporarily in effect, the ruling brought shame on the De Croo Government for good. Even though Brussels had a deal in the making with Tehran for months, if not years, it used multiple tactics to outmaneuver serious allegations it meant to undermine the Belgian Judiciary by bowing to the Iranian regime’s extortion policy and releasing four convicted terrorists, but now, on September 19, the lawyers of the Belgian Government must officially show up in court, look the judges in the eyes, and argue for hours why they want to hand out mass murderers back to their masters in Tehran.
As far as it has been made public, the De Croo Government has been preparing the deal with Tehran since March this year. On May 4, Michael Freilich, a member of the Belgian opposition in parliament, sounded the alarm about a treacherous deal, but several ministers denied everything when they were cross-examined by MPs.
Message to my friends at the National Council of Resistance of #Iran
👉I am strongly opposed to any deal to release convicted terrorists from jail.
👉Let's make it clear: We do NOT negotiate with terrorists!@iran_policy @Bagheri_Ali_ pic.twitter.com/Bxmzt65v3z
— Michael Freilich, MP (Belgium) (@MichaelFreilich) May 4, 2022
On July 1, members of the Foreign Affairs Committee of the Belgian parliament were compelled to schedule an urgent vote for the subsequent Tuesday (July 5). The Government announced it instantly needed to get a deal confirmed with India, the United Arab Emirates, and Iran. Once word reached the public, the Iranian Resistance got involved and organized a worldwide campaign to stop the release of a group of state terrorists it had helped put behind bars.
Although the Belgian Government had failed to silently get its bill passed in five days, it went the extra mile to scare the MPs with the usual “national security” warnings and pushed them to choose party over integrity. Once the bill was passed in the Foreign Affairs Committee, almost no one thought there was the hope of halting the deal.
For three long weeks, the Government and the parliament of Belgium were flooded with protests and objections from all over the world. Hundreds of former world leaders, ministers, legislators, judges, NGOs, Nobel Laureates, and thousands of Iranians voiced their concerns and warned Brussels of surrendering to the murderous regime that had used the four decades-long appeasement policy as a green light to motivate terror cells and kept dispatching them to kill dissidents and take Western citizens hostage.
Thanks to the global campaign, particularly three weeks of tireless protesting on the streets by Iranians and supporters of the Iranian Resistance, public opinion in Belgium and throughout Europe slammed the treaty, and Politico went even farther to expose the European appetite for oil and gas, led by France, that was kept secret under the “national security” mantra.
Finally, even when the Belgian parliament voted to bless the treaty with the Iranian regime, the Iranian Resistance didn’t give up and announced it would challenge this decision with all legal and political means possible. A vow it held by getting the Brussels Court of First Instance ordered on July 28.
As someone with a decent experience on similar occasions, I’m certain that a phrase that will echo through the court chambers over and over again is going to be “national security”. It’s an ambiguous term that the executive branch uses to hush the judiciary as well as their legislative peers not to look into the dirty waters of intergovernmental dealings.
But in court, Brussels’ advocates will face a seasoned team who has successfully challenged and defeated many Western governments. The Iranian National Council of Resistance (NCRI) and its main constituent, the Mujahedin-e-Khalq Organization (MEK/PMOI), have spent years in European and American courts fighting an uphill battle that once seemed to be impossible to fight.
Until a decade ago, Western governments used terror labeling to prohibit their struggle against the Iran dictatorship. After 15 years of legal struggle, the Iranian Resistance successfully terminated all designations, one court at a time.
Today, the NCRI and their international supporters are trying to persuade the Western governments that appeasement does nothing but undermine national security. Since the American embassy was seized in Tehran in 1979 or the next hostage-taking encounter in 1983 in Beirut, the Iranian regime’s extortion machine has only been proven effective by Western appeasement policy. Sustaining that approach, there will never be a “last hostage” or a “last terror attack.”
Asadollah Assadi is currently behind bars because of the sincere and professional collaboration of international law enforcement and the European justice system. He is the first Iranian terrorist diplomat to face the penalty, and we must make sure he is not the last.
Hence, as former Western leaders, we will support the Iranian Resistance to challenge the shortsighted understanding of our succeeding peers about national security. Let’s hope that the judges in Brussels will understand that what’s at stake is far more than the security of a foreign opposition group in exile.
Alejo Vidal-Quadras, a Spanish professor of atomic and nuclear physics, was vice-president of the European Parliament from 1999 to 2014. He is currently president of the Brussels- based International Committee in Search of Justice (ISJ)