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Tuesday, October 3, 2023

Iran jails Belgian aid worker 28 years for no reason – family

Iran has sentenced a Belgian aid worker to 28 years in prison on unknown charges, his family has said.Olivier Vandecasteele, 41, was arrested during a brief visit to Tehran in February and accused of espionage.

On Wednesday, his family said they had been informed of his sentence at a meeting with Belgium’s prime minister.There was no confirmation from Iran, but the news comes days after Belgium’s constitutional court halted a controversial prisoner exchange treaty.

Iran wants to swap Mr Vandecasteele for its alleged top intelligence official in Europe, Assadollah Assadi. He was given a 20-year jail sentence in Belgium last year for plotting to bomb an exiled Iranian opposition group’s rally.

His family allege that he has been subjected to “inhumane conditions” that amount to torture while in detention. They say he has been kept the entire time in solitary confinement in a windowless basement cell and has suffered various health problems.

Last Thursday, the Belgian constitutional court suspended the treaty pending a final ruling within three months. The Iranian foreign ministry said it was saddened that “political views” had affected bilateral ties and that it hoped the treaty would be allowed.

-Inputs from agencies

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