Iran responsible for attempted bomb attack on opposition group in France: Lawyer

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Iran is responsible for the attempted bomb attack by a diplomat and several others at an event held by an exiled Iranian opposition group in France in 2018, the civil party’s lawyer Rik Vanreusel told Al Arabiya.

“There was a bomb planted, or almost planted, on a gathering of the opposition of the state of Iran. That the bomb was planted by a diplomat… That this spy has recruited several other agents to perform this heinous attack and this having been done without Iran knowing, to me, is impossible,” Vanreusel said in an interview.

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A Belgian court is expected to issue its final verdict against the Vienna-based diplomat Assadolah Assadi, and three other Iranians on Thursday for planning to bomb a meeting held by the National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI) in France.

The verdict was initially due at the end of January, but the Antwerp court deferred it to February 4, without giving any reason for the delay.

Over 1,000 Iranian dissidents, politicians, activists, and lawmakers, including members of the US Congress, the European Parliament, and members of parliaments from several Arab countries, had attended the meeting.

A joint operation between France, Germany, and Belgium thwarted the attack.

Supporters of the National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI) gather in front of the Brandenburg Gate in Berlin, Germany. (File photo: Reuters)
Supporters of the National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI) gather in front of the Brandenburg Gate in Berlin, Germany. (File photo: Reuters)

“The state of Iran as a governing body is responsible and can therefore be identified with state sponsored terrorism. I think this case is a clear example of that,” Vanreusel said.

Assadi, who was the third counselor at Iran’s embassy in Vienna, did not only act on orders from Iran, but also recruited others to help plant the bomb, the lawyer claimed.

Posted in Vienna, the diplomat’s mission covered cracking down on Iranian opposition groups operating outside the country, authorities believe.

While Iran has denied allegations of involvement in the attack, Vanreusel told Al Arabiya that Tehran has never distanced itself from the diplomat, and sent foreign dignitaries from the embassy to visit him in prison.

“Iran never said on international levels ‘This diplomat is a lone wolf. He has gone rogue.’ They never acknowledged this. They always denied their own involvement, but they never parted ways with the diplomat,” Vanreusel said.

Arrested in 2018, while on holiday in Germany, Assadi’s extradition to Belgium followed two accomplices detained with half a kilogram of the explosive TATP and a detonator.

During an interrogation interview, Assadi threatened Belgian authorities of possible retaliation if he is found guilty.

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