Belgian Manon Vandecasteele sits blindfolded in a cell during a protest action for her uncle Olivier Vandecasteele, who is imprisoned in Iran, on the Grand-Place in Tournai on April 22, 2023. Image Credit: AFP

DUBAI: An Iranian diplomat jailed for 20 years in Belgium will soon be released in a prisoner swap, Iran’s judiciary spokesperson said on Wednesday.

“Belgium has requested an exchange and so have we for our diplomat Asadollah Assadi. Following the necessary protocols, such an exchange will be done soon,” the spokesperson, Masoud Setayeshi, said.

In March, Belgium’s Constitutional Court upheld a prisoner exchange treaty with Iran that could lead to Assadi being swapped for a jailed Belgian aid worker.

Last week, Belgium submitted a request to Iran that the jailed aid worker, Olivier Vandecasteele, be sent back to his country in accordance with the prisoner transfer treaty.

Assadi was jailed for 20-years in 2021 over a 2018 foiled bomb plot targeting an Iranian opposition group in Paris.

Vandecasteele was arrested on a visit to Iran in February 2022 and sentenced in January to 40 years in prison and 74 lashes on several charges including spying.

Belgium repeatedly said there are no grounds for the detention of Vandecasteele.

Its justice minister said he was convicted “for a fabricated series of crimes” and in retribution for Assadi’s jailing.

Iran has called the accusation that Assadi was linked to an attack in Paris a “false flag” stunt by the exiled National Council of Resistance of Iran, which it calls a terrorist group.