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Iran parliament to discuss Belgium prisoner swap treaty

A photo taken on February 13, 2017 shows a flyer during a protest outside the Iranian embassy in Brussels for A poster from a protest in support of Ahmadreza Djalali, an Iranian academic detained in Tehran on 25 April 2016 [DIRK WAEM/AFP/Getty Images]
A poster from a protest in support of Ahmadreza Djalali, an Iranian academic detained in Tehran on 13 February 2017 [DIRK WAEM/AFP/Getty Images]

Iran's parliament is to debate a prisoner exchange deal with Belgium, state media said on Monday, after Brussels approved the deal that may lead to the release of an Iranian diplomat jailed for planning to bomb a rally of an exiled opposition group, reports Reuters.

The official Iranian news agency IRNA said the cabinet approved the prisoner exchange treaty bill and sent it to parliament.

If passed by parliament, the bill needs to be approved by a clerical council before it becomes law.

Belgian lawmakers gave approval on July 20 to the treaty which might secure the release of a Belgian aid worker who was detained in Iran in February and could help Swedish-Iranian academic Ahmadreza Djalali, who has taught in Belgium and been sentenced to death in Iran.

Iran has called for the release of Assadollah Assadi, sentenced to 20 years in prison in Belgium in 2021 after being convicted over a foiled 2018 bomb plot. His was the first trial of an Iranian official for suspected terrorism in Europe since Iran's 1979 revolution.

It is not clear when a prisoner exchange might happen.

READ: Belgium ratifies treaty allowing extradition of terror suspects to Iran

Several Belgian lawmakers have voiced concern that the treaty might lead to "hostage diplomacy" and put other Belgians at risk of detention.

The exiled National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI), whose 2018 rally near Paris had been the bomb plot's target, called the treaty "shameful" and said Assadi should remain in jail.

The Islamic Republic has dismissed all terrorism accusations, calling the Paris attack allegations a "false flag" stunt by the NCRI, which is, in turn, considers a terrorist group.

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