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Belgian Court Rejects Mehrdad Arefani’s Request to Go to Iran

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Releasing and returning bomb-carrying mercenaries to their masters in Tehran whether through political or judicial means, serves as an incentive for further terrorism and hostage-taking

Mehrdad Arefani, an operative of the mullahs’ Intelligence Ministry, who was sentenced to 17 years in prison by the Antwerp court in Belgium, requested to be extradited to Iran and handed over to the regime. He has already served six years of his sentence. Today, the Brussels court dismissed the request of the mercenary. Arefani was part of a terrorist group led by Assadollah Assadi, a regime terrorist-diplomat, who orchestrated the plot to attack the Iranian Resistance’s Free Iran World Summit in Villepinte, Paris, in July 2018.

The Iranian Resistance applauds the court’s decision and warns against any political or judicial maneuvers that might return this terrorist mercenary to his handlers in Tehran. Such actions would only embolden the mullahs’ regime to perpetrate further acts of terrorism and engage in hostage-taking.

Arefani’s plea for repatriation to Iran follows a disgraceful deal involving the mullahs’ regime, which saw the release and return of Assadi to Iran a year earlier. Initially, Arefani denied any ties to the Intelligence Ministry and Assadi, asserting his arrest was a mistake. However, police investigations and judicial proceedings firmly established his active role in the conspiracy to bomb the event in Villepinte. Both the lower court and the appeals court sentenced him to 17 years in prison and stripped him of his Belgian citizenship and passport. The Belgian Supreme Court confirmed this sentence on November 17, 2022.

Mehrdad Arefani was recruited in prison to act against the People’s Mojahedin Organization of Iran (PMOI/MEK) in the early 1980s and was subsequently sent to Europe. To conceal his role as an agent of the Iranian regime, he posed as an intellectual, poet, and atheist. In the winter of 2017, he traveled to Albania under the guise of accompanying a martyr’s mother, aiming to gather information on the PMOI and their locations within the country. During his visit, Arefani insisted on engaging directly with PMOI officials, but to no avail.

Police and prosecutor investigation documents reveal that in addition to the cash found during a search of Arefani’s home, over €226,000 had been deposited into his accounts by 2018, payments made to the Ministry of Intelligence.

The Antwerp Court of Appeal ruling on May 10, 2022, wrote that Arefani “also attended the meeting of June 30, 2018, and had an operational mobile phone used exclusively for his contacts with Assadollah Assadi. Arefani’s claim that he used a cell phone as an FM receiver was false. One can refer to the contents of some of the messages exchanged between Arefani and Assadi on June 17, 2018, several days before Assadollah Assadi went to Iran to complete the preparations for a planned attack using the code language.”

The Court of Appeals issued a statement on May 10, 2022, about its verdict, noting among other things, “Arefani who spent time near the exit of the hall was well aware of the impending bomb attack. He was able to communicate directly with his commander, Assadollah Assadi, who had ordered him to do so, designed the whole plan and directed the defendants Amir Sa’douni and Nasimeh Na’ami.”

The statement added, “Mehrdad Arefani also collected information about the PMOI during this period and had been sending it to Assadollah Assadi since 2015. He had an operational mobile phone that was used solely to maintain contact with Assadollah Assadi.”

Recognizing that the documents linking Arefani to Assadi are irrefutable, the regime’s attorney at the appeals court attempted to recast Arefani’s involvement as espionage rather than terrorism, arguing for a more lenient sentence.

Secretariat of the National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI)

27 May 2024