Belgian Foreign Minister Hadja Lahbib said in a statement on his Twitter account that he had formally conveyed Vandecasteele’s extradition request to him during his meeting with his Iranian counterpart, Hussein Emir Abdullahiyan, yesterday.
Lahbib also expressed his condemnation of Vandecasteele’s detention conditions.
Vandecasteele was tried for “espionage, money laundering and currency smuggling” in Iran, where she was held for 8 months, and sentenced to 40 years in prison.
His family reported that his health had deteriorated, and a petition campaign was organized by Amnesty International to extradite Vandecasteele to his country.
The Belgian Federal Assembly ratified the agreement with Iran allowing prisoner exchanges last July. The opposition criticized the deal, arguing that it was part of a campaign to save Iranian diplomat Assadullah Assad, who was sentenced to 20 years in prison by the Antwerp Court on charges of “terrorism”. Thereupon, a lawsuit was filed in the Constitutional Court for the annulment of the agreement, and the Court rejected the objection on 3 March. Thus, the way was opened for the exchange of Iranian diplomat Esedullah Esedi, who was imprisoned in Belgium, and Vandecasteele.