The trial of Assadollah Assadi, the Iranian regime’s “diplomat-terrorist” and three of his accomplices on terrorism charges began in Antwerp, Belgium on Friday, November 27. The four are charged with plotting to bomb the international gathering of “Free Iran” in support of the National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI) in the suburbs of Paris on June 30, 2018. The next session of the trial is scheduled for December 3, 2020.
While Assadi was working as the third counselor at the Iranian embassy in Vienna, he was also a senior officer of the notorious Ministry of Intelligence and Security (MOIS).
It is the first time in history that an Iranian diplomat will stand trial on terrorism charges in Europe. NCRI and 24 other participants of the event including political dignitaries from Europe and North America are Civil Parties to this case.
The prosecutors stressed the role of the Iranian regime, especially the Ministry of Intelligence and Security as a terrorist entity and added that the operation intended to inflict maximum killing.
The prosecutors in their indictment called on the court to sentence Assadi to 20 years, which is the maximum sentence according to the law, two of the defendants who were assigned to bomb the event to 18 years and the fourth person to 15 years. The court was also asked to withdraw the Belgian nationality of three of the defendants.
The following are the excerpts of some of the coverage by the international media:
Iran diplomat on trial over plot to bomb opponents in France
November 25, 2020 – BRUSSELS (AP) — The bomb was meant to explode in a Paris suburb during a huge rally being held by an exiled Iranian opposition group. It could have caused carnage.
Instead, the explosion ripped apart the robot that army specialists were using to defuse the bomb after it was found in the car of a couple arrested in a Brussels suburb.
More than two years after the last-minute, cross-border operation that thwarted the planned attack, the couple go on trial Friday alongside two Iranian citizens, including a diplomat believed to be the plot’s mastermind.
The court case in the city of Antwerp has the potential to embarrass Iran. According to legal documents from the two-year investigation obtained by The Associated Press, Belgium’s intelligence and security agency (VSSE) says the diplomat, Assadollah Assadi, operated on orders of Iran’s authorities and brought the explosives to Europe himself.
In European first, Iranian envoy faces trial over foiled bomb plot
November 27, 2020 – ANTWERP, Belgium (Reuters) – An Iranian diplomat and three other Iranians went on trial in Belgium on Friday accused of planning to bomb a meeting of an exiled opposition group in France in 2018, the first time an EU country has put an Iranian official on trial for terrorism.
Belgian prosecutors charged Vienna-based diplomat Assadolah Assadi and the three others with plotting an attack on a rally of the Paris-based National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI). The rally’s keynote address was given by U.S. President Donald Trump’s lawyer, Rudy Giuliani.
Assadi, who was arrested while on holiday in Germany and handed over to Belgium, is refusing to appear in court and did not attend the first day of the trial in Antwerp; he has not commented on the charges.
Villepinte attack foiled: Iranian agents before Belgian justice
Original in French
November 27, 2020 – A court in Antwerp, Belgium, on Friday (November 27) began examining a high-profile case involving an Iranian diplomat and three of his alleged accomplices. Arrested in Belgium, France and Germany on June 30 and July 1, 2018, they were indicted for attempted terrorist assassination and preparation of a terrorist offense.
Their target was to be a large meeting of the opposition to the mullahs’ regime on June 30 in Villepinte (Seine-Saint-Denis). A Belgian-Iranian couple, arrested in Brussels the very morning of the meeting, were carrying a sophisticated explosive device: half a kilo of acetone peroxide (TATP) which, commanded from a distance, could have caused considerable damage and killed people. Many people, according to experts.
Tens of thousands of participants were expected for the annual meeting of the National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI), which has since 1981 brought together five opposition organizations. It is chaired by Maryam Rajavi, already targeted in Europe by other attempted attacks in 1995 and 2014.
Numerous personalities were in the front row in Villepinte, and 25 of them became civil parties. Ingrid Betancourt, ex-senator and presidential candidate of Colombia, addressing the court referred to “the cold sweat which [him] runs down her back at the idea of the carnage that could have taken place”.
… The investigation file also reveals that a mullah known to be close to Ali Khamenei, the Supreme Leader, traveled from Tehran to Vienna, then to Paris, to accompany Assadi on a reconnaissance mission in France…
… In France, two and a half years after Villepinte’s failed attempt, the intelligence services remain marked. “This case is extremely serious, it could have caused carnage, confirms a member of the French intelligence community. But we had to keep a low profile.”
Iranian ‘bomb plot’ targeted Tory MPs
An Iranian diplomat planned to carry out a terrorist attack in France that could have killed five British MPs and Rudy Giuliani, President Trump’s lawyer, a court has been told.
Assadollah Assadi, 48, failed to appear yesterday for the opening of his trial at which he is accused of masterminding a foiled attack on an event held by Iranian opposition activists in June 2018.
… Belgian prosecutors claim that the plot was concocted with support from Tehran. Representatives of the Mujahidin-e-Khalq opposition group, whose annual rally was the alleged target, claimed that Mr Assadi had been ordered by Mohammad Javad Zarif, the Iranian foreign minister, not to attend. Thousands of activists and politicians were there, and police believe that the plot would have caused mass loss of life had it succeeded.
… It is the first time that a European country has put an Iranian official on trial for terrorism charges. Tehran has threatened a “proportionate response” against countries involved in the trial.
Mujahidin-e-Khalq is a political movement that advocates the overthrow of the Iranian regime and the installation of its own government. The bomb is believed to have been intended for Maryam Rajavi, leader of the National Council of Resistance to Iran, who was at the rally and promotes herself as an interim leader of Iran if the regime were ousted.
French investigators claim to have found evidence that Mr Assadi had attended the same rally a year earlier in what they believe was a scouting mission.
Iran diplomat skips trial in Belgium over failed bomb plot
November 27, 2020 – …Labour’s Roger Godsiff and Conservative MPs Bob Blackman, Matthew Offord, Sir David Amess and Theresa Villiers, attended the event in Villepinte near Paris, where US President Donald Trump’s lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, gave the keynote speech.
“Had the plot remain undiscovered, it would have been Iran’s biggest ever state-sponsored terrorist act,” claimed Mr Blackman, who is one of 25 civil parties to the case.
“It is time to hold the Iranian regime accountable for its repression and home and now in Europe,” he told The Telegraph.
… Mr Assadi, 48, denies the charges and did not cooperate with investigators. Lawyer Dimitri De Beco said his client claimed diplomatic immunity.
He was arrested while on holiday in Germany, where prosecutors say immunity did not apply.
Lawyers for the plaintiffs argue that diplomatic immunity cannot be used to evade prosecution where the charges are terror related, which carries a maximum penalty of 20 years imprisonment.
Secret services – Iranian diplomat is said to have planned terrorist attack
Original in German
November 26, 2020 – The trial of the Iranian Assadollah A., 48 years old, begins this Friday in Antwerp, and armed groups in the Middle East, but certainly most intelligence services on the European continent, will want to follow this trial very closely.
…It is a process that a lot depends on politically – for Iran’s tense relationship with the West. The trial documents, which the Süddeutsche Zeitung, NDR and WDR were able to view, trace an extensive international investigation.
…He is said to have carried 550 grams of the highly explosive TATP to Europe in a diplomatic suitcase, a substance that is popular with terrorists because it can be produced comparatively easily from commercially available chemicals. Assadollah A.’s bomb is said to have been constructed “very professionally”, according to an expert from the Belgian police, with an explosive power that could have killed many people.
… The public prosecutor’s office assumes that the alleged counselor gave them the exact instructions. They are said to have used code words later when discussing the attack plan. The “Playstation”, as they probably called the explosive device, was connected to the “television”, reported the alleged terrorist aides to their instructor. This was possibly meant that the remote detonator had been installed, which Assadollah A. had also handed over – hidden in a women’s toiletry bag.
“We’ll win the trophy,” said a text message to the diplomat. He in turn promised to personally report to the “Agha” about the successful operation. That just means mr. The investigators assume that a high-ranking official of the Iranian secret service or even the Iranian religious leader Ali Khamenei could have been meant.
Iranian diplomat skips terror trial for bomb plot that targeted UK MPs among others
November 27, 2020 – Minutes before the trial was due to start in Antwerp, Belgium, lawyers from the plaintiffs and representatives for MEQ claimed, without offering evidence, that Mr Assadi had been ordered by Iran’s foreign minister to not attend the hearing.
The plaintiffs believe that Mr. Assadi organised the plot on orders from Iran’s highest authorities.
“The Iran state conspires, threatens and carries on attacks and executions,” said lawyer Georges Henri Beauthier. “We have irrefutable proofs that the Iranian state gave orders from Tehran and authorised the death of thousands of people.”
…The state’s bomb disposal unit said the explosives had been of professional quality, and could have caused a sizeable explosion at the event, which was due to be attended by some 25,000 people.
Conservative MPs Bob Blackman, Matthew Offord, and Theresa Villiers attended the event, according to the register of interests on the UK government’s website.
They were joined by another Tory MP, Sir David Amess, and Labour’s Roger Godsiff, according to The Sun newspaper.
He is reported to be an officer in Iran’s intelligence and security ministry — according to papers from Belgian intelligence seen by news agency AP — and is though to have worked for Iran’s Department 312, the directorate for internal security, which is on the European Union’s list of organisations regarded as terror groups.
Mr. Assadi’s lawyer said his client contests all the charges against him and will raise procedural issues, including the question of his diplomatic immunity.
Lawyers from the plaintiffs argue that diplomatic immunity does not equate to “impunity” and urged the court to order Mr. Assadi to attend the trial.
Belgium: Iranian diplomat refuses to show for bomb plot trial
November 27, 2020 – An Iranian diplomat refused to turn up for trial in Belgium on Friday, where he is accused of plotting to bomb an Iranian opposition rally outside Paris. Assadollah Assadi, 48, faces life in prison if convicted by the Antwerp court. Assadi is claiming “diplomatic immunity” his lawyer Dimitri de Beco told reporters outside the court, adding that he would be representing his client. This case is the first time that a European Union country has put an Iranian official on trial for terrorism.
In June 2018, Belgian authorities arrested a Belgian-Iranian couple driving from Antwerp with about 500 grams (1.1 pounds) of TATP explosives and a detonator. They were allegedly headed to a rally organized by the National Council of Resistance in Iran (NCRI) outside Paris, which was also being attended by former US and British officials. US President Donald Trump’s lawyer Rudy Giuliani gave the keynote address. Prosecutors allege that Assadi, the third counsellor at Iran’s embassy in Vienna at the time, organized the plot with the backing of the Iranian state.
Belgium court charges Iranian diplomat with 20-year prison term over terrorism
November 28, 2020 – An Iranian diplomat suspected of masterminding a state-sponsored bomb attack against an exiled Iranian opposition group in France was charged with a 20-year prison term by Belgium’s prosecution.
“For the Iranian diplomats suspect in this case, a 20-year prison term. For the couple found in possession of the bomb, an 18-year prison term, and for the fourth suspect, a 15-year prison term. For these last three suspects, the federal prosecutor requested also the withdrawal of their Belgian nationality.”, said Belgium’s court spokeswomen.
Iranian diplomat misses first day of his trial over 2018 terror plot
November 27, 2020 – An Iranian diplomat suspected of masterminding a failed bomb attack at a rally outside Paris attended by five British MPs has skipped the first day of his trial, allegedly on the orders of Iran’s foreign minister. Lawyers for Assadollah Assadi, 48, told a court in the Belgian city of Antwerp that their client, who is in custody, was claiming diplomatic immunity.
Along with three other suspects, Assadi is facing between five and 20 years in prison on charges of “attempted terrorist murder and participation in the activities of a terrorist group”.
It is alleged that Assadi was behind a plan to bomb an Iranian opposition rally in 2018 on the orders of Iran’s government, a claim denied by Tehran.
The Conservative MPs Bob Blackman, Matthew Offord and Theresa Villiers attended the event, according to the register of interests on the government’s website. They were joined by another Tory MP, Sir David Amess, and Labour’s Roger Godsiff. Donald Trump’s lawyer Rudy Giuliani was also at the event.
Belgium tries Iranian diplomat over bomb plot
November 27, 2020 – An Iranian diplomat goes on trial in Belgium on Friday accused of plotting to bomb an opposition rally outside Paris, in a case that has stoked tensions with Tehran.
In June 2018 Belgian authorities thwarted what they said was an attempt to smuggle explosives to France to attack a meeting of one of Iran’s exiled opposition movements.
Later that year, the French government accused Iran’s intelligence service of being behind the operation, a charge the Islamic republic has furiously denied.
Assadollah Assadi, a 48-year-old Iranian diplomat formerly based in Vienna, faces life in prison if convicted.
The National Council of Resistance in Iran (NCRI), which includes the People’s Mojahedin of Iran or (MEK), organised a rally in Villepinte outside Paris on June 30, 2018.
Several well-known international figures — including former US and British officials and Franco-Colombian former senator Ingrid Betancourt — and NCRI leader Maryam Rajavi were to attend.
On the same morning, Belgian police intercepted a Belgian-Iranian couple driving from Antwerp and carrying half-a-kilo of TATP explosives and a detonator.
The arrested couple, 36-year-old Nassimeh Naami and 40-year-old Amir Saadouni, join Assadi in the dock, alongside another alleged accomplice, Mehrdad Arefani, 57.
All four are charged with attempting to carry out a terrorist attack and taking part in the activity of a terrorist group. All face life sentences.
Five British MPs escaped death after Iran diplomat ‘smuggled bomb on flight’
November 27, 2020 – Five MPs cheated death after an Iranian diplomat smuggled a bomb onto a commercial flight for a planned attack in Paris, according to court documents.
The agent had intended to use the “Mother of Satan” explosive device at a rally in the French capital that was attended by a 35-strong delegation of British politicians and officials, The Sun reports. The same type of bomb was used in the Manchester Arena attacks and during the 2015 massacre in Paris.
Conservative MPs Bob Blackman, Matthew Offord, David Amess and Theresa Villiers and Labour’s Roger Godsiff attended the rally, in June 2018, along with other high-profile guests including Donald Trump and his lawyer Rudy Giuliani. But the target of the plot was Maryam Rajavi, the head of an exiled Iranian opposition group. Blackman told the newspaper that had the device been detonated, “the US would undeniably have declared war on Iran – and it was only because the plot was foiled, World War Three was averted”.
Iranian diplomat does not attend first day of ‘terror plot’ trial in Belgium
November 27, 2020 – An Iranian diplomat suspected of masterminding a thwarted bomb attack against an exiled Iranian opposition group in France at an event attended by five UK MPs did not show up at the courthouse on the opening day of his trial on terror charges in Belgium.
More than two years after the cross-border police operation that thwarted the attack, Assadollah Assadi and three other 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”.
Five MPs were among thousands who attended a rally in Paris two years ago allegedly targeted in the plot.
Iranian diplomat accused of terror plot on Paris meeting attended by Rudy Giuliani
November 27, 2020 – An Iranian diplomat has been accused of plotting to bomb a huge French political event attended by President Trump’s lawyer Rudy Giuliani — but invoked immunity to avoid attending the start of his trial Friday.
Assadollah Assadi, 48, is accused of masterminding the attempted attack on a June 2018 meeting in Paris of one of Iran’s exiled opposition movements, which was attended by politicians from the UK and US, including Trump allies.
It was only thwarted after Belgian police stopped a Mercedes allegedly on the way to France carrying 550 grams of the so-called “Mother of Satan” TATP explosive and a detonator.
Lawyers for one of the alleged targets, the exiled Mujahedeen-e-Khalq opposition group, or MEK, insisted the plot was on “orders from Tehran,” which “authorized the death of thousands of people.”
Iranian diplomat, accused of Europe terror plot, skips first day of trial
November 29, 2020 – An Iranian diplomat accused of being behind a foiled 2018 terror attack against an Iranian dissident group near Paris invoked diplomatic immunity as he skipped his first day of trial Friday.
Assadollah Assadi, an Iranian diplomat based in Vienna, was one of four arrested for an alleged plot to bomb an annual gathering of Iranian dissident groups in Paris. They each face up to 20 years in prison for attempted terrorist murder and participation in the activities of the terrorist group.
Prosecutors allege that Assadi traveled to Vienna from Iran with the explosive, and handed it off to an Iranian couple he recruited at a Pizza Hut in Luxembourg. The couple was traveling to Paris when arrested in Belgium on June 30, 2018.
Police discovered 550 grams of an unstable explosive and a detonator. Belgium’s bomb disposal unit said the device was of professional quality and could have caused a significant explosion in the crowd of approximately 25,000.
Prosecutors allege that the plot originated from the highest levels of the Iranian government. Iran repeatedly has denied responsibility for the plot. Assadi has denied the charges and his lawyer has claimed “the court is not competent to judge him” due to his diplomatic status.
The National Council of Resistance of Iran, the dissident group that would have been targeted, has said the plan originated in Tehran. It blamed the religious dictatorship’s leaders for the plot.
Iranian Diplomat on Trial in Belgium, Charged with Plotting Attack
November 27, 2020 – An Iranian diplomat and three other Iranian citizens went on trial in Belgium Friday for allegedly plotting to bomb a 2018 rally of the Paris-based National Council Resistance of Iran (NCRI), an opposition group in exile.
Belgian prosecutors charged Vienna-based diplomat Assadolah Assadi and the other Iranians for the alleged plot against the gathering, where the keynote speaker was U.S. President Donald Trump’s personal lawyer, Rudy Giuliani.
Assadi was arrested in Germany while on holiday and handed over to Belgium.
He refused to appear in court the first day of the trial in Antwerp, claiming diplomatic immunity through his lawyer.