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Iran's top rights official urges probe into rights abuses against jailed diplomat in Belgium

Kazem Gharibabadi, Kazem Gharibabadi, the judiciary chief’s deputy for international affairs and secretary of the High Council for Human Rights. (File Photo)

A senior Iranian official has censured Germany and Belgium over the “illegal” detention and trial of Assadollah Assadi, calling for a probe into human rights abuses against the Iranian diplomat.

In a letter to the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Kazem Gharibabadi, the judiciary chief’s deputy for international affairs and secretary of the High Council for Human Rights, urged the world body to hold the two European countries accountable for gross human rights abuses against Assadi.

Despite enjoying diplomatic immunity, the Iranian diplomat based in the Austrian capital of Vienna was arrested on bogus charges while visiting Germany in July 2018.

Nearly three months after his arrest, Assadi was extradited to Belgium where he is currently serving a 20-year prison sentence.

In the letter, Gharibabadi condemned the actions taken by the authorities in Germany and Belgium against Assadi and his family as a “flagrant violation” of the country’s international obligations.

The top rights official said Assadi had faced various forms of torture during his detention in Germany, including being kept in cold cells with insufficient clothing, deprived of proper food, as well as being incarcerated with dangerous criminals, and subjected to mistreatment by prison authorities.

The diplomat, he asserted, had been banned from contacting his family for 53 days during his incarceration in Germany in violation of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.

Gharibabadi, who previously served as Iran’s envoy to the Vienna-based organizations, termed the Belgian court’s arrest warrant against Assadi baseless, adding that the Belgian authorities had subjected Assadi to “inhuman, humiliating and cruel” treatment.

Assadi, he hastened to add, has been denied the right of access to his children, and other relatives, amid wider restrictions, during his detention in Belgium.

Saeed Khatibzadeh, the foreign ministry spokesman, addressing a weekly press conference in Tehran on Monday called for the immediate release of Assadi.

Assadi’s case, according to legal experts, is based on sham and unsubstantiated charges and smacks of political propaganda against the Islamic Republic.

Belgian authorities in June 2018 said the country’s police had intercepted a car carrying homemade explosives, claiming that the Iranian diplomat handed the material to two people in Belgium.

He was accused of plotting an attack against the anti-Iran MKO terrorist outfit, a claim that has been strongly rejected by Iranian authorities.

The MKO has been responsible for numerous assassinations and bombings against top-ranking Iranian officials since the 1979 Islamic Revolution.

Out of the nearly 17,000 Iranians killed in terrorist attacks since the Islamic Revolution, about 12,000 have fallen victim to the MKO’s acts of terror.

One of the biggest attacks by the group was the 1981 bombing of the Islamic Republic Party’s headquarters in Tehran, which killed Iran’s then-judiciary chief Ayatollah Mohammad Hossein Beheshti, and 72 others, including lawmakers and ministers.

The group members fled Iran in 1986 to Iraq, where they enjoyed the patronage of former Iraqi military dictator Saddam Hussein.

The group, now based in Albania, was on the US government’s list of terrorist organizations until 2012. Since being delisted, the group leader Maryam Rajavi has forged close ties with western officials.

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