Tehran, Iran – Iran says allegations that an Iranian diplomat held in Belgium over an alleged bomb plot threatened authorities with retaliation if found guilty are completely false and an attempt at steering the case in a pre-determined direction.
Last week, Reuters news agency published a report claiming that Vienna-based Assadolah Assadi, who was charged in October 2018 with planning to bomb a meeting of an Iranian opposition group in France, warned of potential retaliation if the trial does not go his way.
On Wednesday, Iranian foreign ministry spokesman Saeed Khatibzadeh called the claim a “shallow fabrication”, saying such reports are published with the aim of “future capitalisation”.
“The Islamic Republic of Iran considers the arrest of Mr Assadollah Assadi, an Iranian diplomat in Europe, a move that is fundamentally illegal and in egregious violation of international practices and the 1961 Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations,” he said.
Khatibzadeh said Iran holds European nations involved in the case accountable and reserves the right to a “proportionate response”.
Assadi, who goes on trial in late November, was charged with planning to bomb a Paris rally of the National Council of Resistance of Iran, a group formed with the aim of regime change in Iran. The group counts Mujahedin-e-Khalq, or MEK, as a key member.
Tehran says European states harbour MEK, which it deems a terrorist organisation. The group was on the United States’s terrorism list from 1997 to 2012, but its rallies in recent years have been headlined by the likes of US President Donald Trump’s lawyer Rudy Giuliani and former US National Security Advisor John Bolton.
On Tuesday, the Iranian embassy in Belgium also reacted to the Reuters story by saying it was “amazed” at the level of the distortion of facts, adding it was “one-sided”.
“The Iranian diplomat has denied the charges and stressed that he has never directed any threat toward Belgium. The attorney on the case has also rejected allegations of threats,” the embassy’s statement said.
The Iranian embassy accused Western media of trying to derail the case so it can be “used as a tool against the Islamic Republic”.
Assadi was arrested while on holiday in Germany and handed over to Belgium. The Western European nation says it arrested two of his suspected accomplices with an explosive and a detonation device.
France’s foreign ministry said in October 2018 there was no doubt that Iranian intelligence was behind the alleged bomb plot, and expelled an Iranian diplomat in response.