Brussels, Belgium, November 26, 2020 – In a press conference earlier this morning, Rik Vanrusel and Christophe Marchand, the Belgian lawyers representing the 25 civil parties in the terrorism case against Assadollah Assadi, a senior Iranian regime diplomat and the station chief for the Ministry of Intelligence and Security (MOIS), elaborated on the details of the thwarted plot to bomb the annual Free Iran Gathering held on June 30, 2018, at the Villepinte, near Paris.
Some 100,000 people from five continents as well as hundreds of lawmakers, ministers, and former senior officials from Europe, the United States, the Middle East, and Africa were in attendance.
Assadi and three of his accomplices, Amir Saadouni and his wife Nasimeh Naami, and Mehrdad Arefani, all Belgian citizens of Iranian heritage, will face trial tomorrow on the charges of attempting terrorist murder and participation in a terrorist group.
According to the documents in the file, Assadi personally carried the powerful explosive, TAPT, from Tehran to Austria on a commercial flight and then drove to Luxembourg to hand it over to the two accomplices, Saaduni and Naami in a Pizza Hut in Luxembourg just two days before the event was scheduled to be held.
German law enforcement agencies arrested him the next day as he was about to cross German territory into Austria. Upon his arrest, investigators also found a red notebook in Assadi’s car with instructions on how to use the bomb. The analysis of the suspects’ text messages and emails revealed they used code language to communicate, with “PlayStation 4” the alleged name for the explosive device.
Saadouni and Naami were arrested on the morning of the attack as they were driving to the event. The bomb and its remote detonator had been concealed in a Naami’s toiletry purse.
The court case in the city of Antwerp will shed light on the Iranian regime’s terrorist activities in Europe. Legal documents from the two-year investigation by Belgium’s intelligence and security agency (VSSE) say Assadi operated on orders of Iran’s authorities and brought the explosives to Europe himself. In a note to Belgium’s federal prosecutor, the agency argued that “the planned attack was conceived in the name of Iran and at its instigation.”
“The brazen terrorist plot was not directed against 25 civil parties and tens of thousands of participants in the gathering, alone, but against European and Western civilization and values,” said Mr. Vanrusel.
Christophe Marchand added that the lawyers for the defendants refuse to address the merits of the cases, instead insisting that because Assadi enjoyed diplomatic immunity, he could not be prosecuted for any alleged offense. “To me, the regime is trying to bend the rules of diplomatic immunity, as if a diplomat can walk in the street and murder people and not be prosecuted just because he is a diplomat.”
The Belgian Judicial authorities have been leading the investigations in this case, which also involves Germany, Austria, Luxembourg, and France.
In a statement in advance of the court proceedings, Mrs. Maryam Rajavi, the President-elect of the National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI), underscored, “Today, far beyond just this particular court, the entirety of the regime is being prosecuted before the world’s conscience, especially the people of Europe. The European Union and member states whose territories have become the roaming grounds for terrorism by the religious fascism ruling Iran are being judged by the court of public opinion to end the policy of silence vis-à-vis the regime’s terrorism and adopt a decisive policy towards Iran’s medieval regime. The Iranian regime’s leaders must be prosecuted and face justice. This is an imperative and deterrent step to counter the godfather of international terrorism in our time.”
As to whether there is a smoking gun in this case, Mr. Vanrusel said, “The file is replete with documents and evidence that clearly ties Assadi with the Iranian government. He is a senior diplomat with a diplomatic passport and is also MOIS station chief in Vienna. And the other two defendants to whom he gave the bomb have said he worked for the Ministry of Intelligence.”
The French side of the investigation also established that Assadi visited Villepinte during the 2017 MEK rally, possibly on a reconnaissance trip.
“It is the first time in the modern history of Europe that a sitting diplomat of any country is being prosecuted for directly being involved in a terrorism plot,” said Farzin Hashemi, an official with the Foreign Affairs Committee of the National Council of Resistance of Iran.
If convicted, the four suspects face between five years and 20 years in prison on charges of “attempted terrorist murder and participation in the activities of a terrorist group.”