Three Europeans who had been held captive by Iran landed in Belgium early on June 3—the most recent in a series of prisoner exchanges. At the military airport near Brussels, Melsbroek, three passengers—two Austrian-Iranians and one Dane—arrived soon before 2:45 am. Their flight originated in Muscat, the capital of Oman, which simplified their release. They were greeted at the airport by diplomats from Denmark and Austria as well as Belgian Foreign Minister Hadja Lahbib.
Kamran Ghaderi and Massud Mossaheb, who have dual citizenship with Austria and Iran, were released as part of a prisoner exchange involving Europeans and an Iranian official. International outrage was expressed over the detention of both of them in Iran on suspicions of espionage and security breaches, respectively. Officials in Austria have expressed their relief that two of its citizens, who had spent years imprisoned in Iran, have been freed.
Alexander Schallenberg, a spokesperson for the foreign ministry, stated that Austria would leave “no stone unturned” to obtain the release of a third citizen who remains imprisoned in Iran and whose conviction is currently up for appeal. Meanwhile, Chancellor Karl Nehammer said that the men’s long journey of suffering had come to an end.
The release of the three men, along with that of a Belgian humanitarian worker a week earlier, was a result of a prisoner exchange in which Tehran received the return of an Iranian diplomat, Assadollah Assadi who had been convicted and imprisoned in Belgium on terrorism-related charges.
Mr. Ghaderi was detained in Iran in 2016 and, on what his family claims was a coerced confession, was found guilty of spying and given a ten-year prison sentence. The 70-year-old Mr. Mossaheb was detained in Teheran in 2019 and found guilty of what Amnesty International described as “vague national security offenses.”
The two were imprisoned for 2,709 and 1,586 days, respectively. The two were imprisoned for 2,709 and 1,586 days, respectively. Belgian humanitarian worker Olivier Vandecasteele and Iranian ambassador Assadollah Assadi were both involved in the prior prisoner swap between Belgium and Iran.
In 2021, Assadi was found guilty in Belgium in relation to a bomb plan that was aborted in France, and he was given a 20-year prison term. Iran claimed that the accusations against him were false. The Danish national was detained in Iran in November 2022 in connection with protests for women’s rights, according to a statement from the Belgian government.
Photo caption: Freed After nearly 15 months of captivity in Iran, Belgian humanitarian worker Olivier Vandecasteele is greeted by family members as he disembarks an aircraft on the tarmac. Photo: AFP
The three men were released on humanitarian grounds, according to Kazem Gharibabadi, Iran’s top human rights official, according to Iranian state media. Alexander De Croo, the prime minister of Belgium, expressed gratitude to Oman for mediating the trade. The Gulf Arab nation has excellent ties with both Iran and Western nations, and it has previously acted as a mediator.
Officially, there are still 22 Europeans in Iranian jails, according to Belgian government sources, but no more Europeans will be traded for Assadi.
Additionally, they mentioned that Belgium is still fighting for the release of Ahmadreza Djalali, an Iranian-Swedish citizen who gave a guest lecture at the University of Brussels and was detained in 2016 while on an academic visit to Iran.