Iran hit with sanctions after being blamed for killing dissidents

Dutch intelligence agency claims Iran ordered killing of two opposition figures, but Tehran strongly denied accusations.

    Dutch Minister of Foreign Affairs Stef Blok said Iran also attempted an assassination in Denmark and and a bomb attack in France [Virginia Mayo/AP]
    Dutch Minister of Foreign Affairs Stef Blok said Iran also attempted an assassination in Denmark and and a bomb attack in France [Virginia Mayo/AP]

    The Iranian government is responsible for the killing of two dissident Iranians living in the Netherlands, the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs said on Tuesday, as the European Union announced sanctions against an Iranian intelligence unit and two officials linked to the deaths.

    Dutch Minister of Foreign Affairs Stef Blok said Iran also attempted an assassination in Denmark and a bomb attack in France.

    According to Dutch intelligence agency AIVD, middlemen were employed by the Iranian government to kill the two victims.

    "Iran's involvement in the assassinations underlines the importance of our investigation of the Iranian regime's intentions," AIVD chief Dick Schoof said in a statement.

    The Iranian government has denied any involvement in the killings of the two opponents of the regime. It said that the accusations were intended to damage EU-Iran relations.

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    In a statement posted on social media, Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif accused the Netherlands and other European countries of harbouring members of the Mujahedeen-e-Khalq (MEK), which was once designated as a terrorist group by the United States.

    "Accusing Iran won't absolve Europe of responsibility for harbouring terrorists," Zarif wrote.

    The two people that were allegedly killed by the Iranian government were Mohammed Reza Kolahi Samadi, who was killed in Almere in 2015, and Ahmad Mola Nissi, who was killed in The Hague in 2017.

    Samadi, who lived under the name Ali Motamed in the Netherlands, was sentenced to death in Iran for his alleged involvement in a 1981 bombing attack in which 70 people, mostly members of the ruling party, were killed.

    Last year, the Dutch government said it did not know that Samadi, identified as a member of MEK, had used a fake name when he applied for asylum in the Netherlands following his trial in Iran.

    Two people are currently on trial for their involvement in the 2015 killing of Samadi but, according to Dutch authorities, these suspects did not know who the person they killed actually was.

    The other victim was Ahmad Mola Nissi, who was killed in The Hague in 2017. He was allegedly the leader of the Arab Struggle Movement for the Liberation of Ahwaz (ASMLA), which calls for the independence of the Khuzestan region in Iran. Recently, ASMLA was accused of being involved in the attack in Ahvaz that killed at least 29 people.

    Sanctions

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    Following the announcement, the Netherlands, Denmark, France, the United Kingdom, Germany and Belgium announced sanctions targeting the financial means of people allegedly involved in the killing of the two Iranians.

    The ministry also said that further sanctions are not ruled out if Iran does not cooperate with the ongoing investigations into the murders.

    "Transgressions such as these cannot be tolerated," Interior Minister Kajsa Ollongren said in a statement.

    "They show that our services must remain vigilant at all times and continue to uncover foreign activities of this kind," she added.

    "AIVD intelligence has contributed to the fact that the Netherlands and the European Union have taken severe diplomatic measures."

    The murders of Samadi and Nissi also led to the Netherlands expelling two Iranian diplomats from the country in June 2018.

    "Iran was informed that involvement in such matters is entirely unacceptable and must be stopped immediately ... further sanctions cannot be ruled out," a separate statement by the group of European countries imposing the sanctions read.

    SOURCE: Al Jazeera News