Belgian in Iran Spy Case ‘also Holds Ivorian Nationality’

Published November 28th, 2000 - 02:00 GMT

A Belgian national arrested by Iran earlier this month on espionage charges holds a second passport from the Ivory Coast, a European source told AFP on Tuesday. 

"He is apparently a European businessman, who also has Ivorian nationality," said the source, who added that the man detained was not resident in Iran but only passing through. 

France represents the Ivory Coast in the Islamic republic and could thus be handling the case if the information is confirmed, the source said. 

The unnamed suspect was arrested November 19 on charges of spying and gathering classified information, according to the state news agency IRNA. 

The Belgian embassy here confirmed it had been told of the arrest but said it had not been informed of the suspect's name or the evidence for the charges. 

The arrest comes amid strained ties between Tehran and Brussels over a lawsuit filed in Belgium earlier this year against former Iranian president Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani. 

The suit blamed Rafsanjani for physical and psychological torture of political prisoners during his tenure as head of parliament in the 1980s. 

The foreign ministry here summoned the Belgian ambassador in March to protest the suit, reportedly filed by an Iranian-born Belgian woman, as a "blatant example of interference in the internal affairs of Iran." 

Around half of the reformist MPs in the Iranian parliament threatened at the time to push for a break in diplomatic relations with Belgium over the affair -- TEHRAN (AFP)  

 

 

© 2000 Al Bawaba (www.albawaba.com)

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