Iranian envoy faces trial over foiled EU bomb plot

An Iranian diplomat and three other Iranians went on trial in Belgium on Friday (November 27) accused of planning a bomb attack in France in 2018.

This is the first time an EU country has put an Iranian official on trial for terrorism.

Belgian prosecutors charged Vienna-based diplomat Assadolah Assadi and three others with plotting an attack on a rally of the Paris-based National Council of Resistance of Iran, also known as NCRI.

In the event, U.S. President Donald Trump's lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, gave a keynote speech.

Authorities say the attack was foiled by a coordinated operation between French, German and Belgian security services.

Farzin Hashemi is the Deputy Chairman of the NCRI Foreign Affairs Committee:

"Today, this is a historical day. After 40 years of export of terrorism and involving in acts of terrorism in Europe and elsewhere, for the first time, an official of the Iranian regime - a so-called diplomat - is put on trial. So we are very happy that finally, justice is being done."

Assadi was arrested while on holiday in Germany and handed over to Belgium.

He is refusing to appear in court and did not attend the first day of the trial in Antwerp.

He has not commented on the charges.

Here's his lawyer, Dimitri de Beco:

"My client asked me to represent him today. He let me know that he has the fullest respect for these judges but, as he considers that he should benefit from his immunity, they are not allowed to judge him. Also because his defence rights were not respected since the beginning of the procedure."

Assadi was the third counsellor at Iran's embassy in Vienna.

French officials have said he was in charge of intelligence in southern Europe and was acting on orders from Tehran.

The Islamic Republic has repeatedly dismissed the charges, calling the attack allegations a "false flag" stunt by the NCRI, which it considers a terrorist group.

Video Transcript

- An Iranian diplomat and three other Iranians went on trial in Belgium on Friday, accused of planning a bomb attack in France in 2018. This is the first time an EU country has put an Iranian official on trial for terrorism. Belgian prosecutors charged Vienna based diplomat Assadolah Assadi and three others with plotting an attack on a rally of the Paris based National Council of Resistance of Iran, Also known as NCRI.

In the event, US President Donald Trump's lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, gave a keynote speech.

Authorities say the attack was foiled by a coordinated operation between French, German, and Belgian security services. Farzin Hashemi is the deputy chairman of the NCRI foreign Affairs Committee.

FARZIN HASHEMI: Today this is a historical day. After 40 years of export of terrorism and involvement in acts of terrorism in Europe and elsewhere, for the first time an official of the Iranian regime, a so-called diplomat, is putting on trial. So we are really happy that finally justice is being done.

- Assadi was arrested while on holiday in Germany and handed over to Belgium. He is refusing to appear in court and did not attend the first day of trial in Antwerp. He has not commented on the charges. Here's his lawyer, Dimitri de Beco.

DIMITRI DE BECO: My client asked me to represent him today. He let me know that he has the fullest respect for these judges. But as he considers that he should benefit from immunity, they are not allowed to judge him. Also because his defense rights were not respected since the beginning of the procedure.

- Assadi was the third counselor at Iran's embassy in Vienna. French officials have said he was in charge of intelligence in southern Europe and was acting on orders from Tehran.

The Islamic Republic has repeatedly dismissed the charges, calling the attack allegations a quote "false flag stunt by the NCRI," which it considers a terrorist group.