Jan. 12, 2023

Is Iran’s sentencing of Belgian aid worker heralding prisoner swap?

Iran/Politics

The story: Iran has issued a 40-year prison sentence to a Belgian aid worker who was detained last year. The move could be geared to compel a prisoner exchange with Belgium, where a former Iranian diplomat is serving a 20-year term on terrorism charges.

This comes as an Iranian ex-judiciary official has appeared before an appeals court in Sweden to contest a life sentence over alleged involvement in the mass execution of political prisoners.

The coverage: Belgian aid worker Olivier Vandecasteele was on Jan. 10 sentenced on four separate charges to a total of 40 years in prison as well as 74 lashes.

  • The charges were outlined as espionage, smuggling of foreign currency, money laundering and collaborating with the US government.

  • The 41-year-old, who had previously been in Iran on humanitarian missions, was detained in Feb. 2022 while visiting Tehran.

  • Belgian Foreign Minister Hadja Lahbib on Jan. 10 condemned the sentence and...

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