Three Europeans freed from Iranian prison arrive in Belgium

Three Europeans released from jail in Iran arrived at Melsbroek airfield outside Brussels on Saturday morning. Their release constitutes the second and final phase of a wider operation that saw the return of Belgian Olivier Vandecasteele last week.

A week after Vandecasteele’s release, prime minister Alexander De Croo announced on Friday that one Danish and two Austrian-Iranian prisoners had also been freed by the regime in Tehran. They were transferred to Belgium by medical plane via Oman and arrived early on Saturday morning, where they were met by Foreign minister Hadja Lahbib.

According to the Austrian government, their two citizens are 76-year-old Massoud Mossaheb, who was arrested in 2019 and sentenced to 10 years in prison in 2020 for espionage, and businessman Kamran Ghaderi, who was arrested in 2016 and given the same sentence. Denmark has not provided any information on the identity of the third person, who was arrested last autumn during demonstrations for women’s rights.

Aid worker Vandecasteele and the other Europeans were released in exchange for Iranian Assadollah Assadi, who was jailed for 20 years by a court in Belgium in 2021 for plotting a bomb attack on an exiled Iranian opposition group's rally in France.


The three released prisoners arrive at Melsbroek military airfield in Belgium © BELGA PHOTO NICOLAS MAETERLINCK

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