Iranian envoy charged over Paris rally bomb plot

Activists of the National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI) rally in front of the Federal Foreign Office in Berlin on July 11, 2018 calling for the extradition of an Iranian secret service officer to Belgium. (AFP / Tobias Schwarz)
Updated 12 July 2018
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Iranian envoy charged over Paris rally bomb plot

  • Assadollah Assadi, 46, a counsellor at the Iranian embassy in Vienna, has been accused of plotting to blow up a rally in Paris last month of the National Council of Resistance of Iran, which called for regime change in Tehran.
  • Iran has used embassies as cover to plot terrorist attacks, the US State Department said on Wednesday, and all countries should carefully examine staff at Iranian diplomatic missions.

JEDDAH: An Iranian diplomat was remanded in custody in Germany on Wednesday on charges of acting as a foreign agent and conspiracy to murder.

Assadollah Assadi, 46, a counsellor at the Iranian embassy in Vienna, has been accused of plotting to blow up a rally in Paris last month of the National Council of Resistance of Iran, which called for regime change in Tehran.

Prosecutors said that Assadi commissioned a couple living in Antwerp to carry out the attack, and supplied them with 500 grams of the explosive TATP and a detonating device, at a meeting in Luxembourg in late June.

The couple, Amir S., 38, and Nasimeh N., 33, Belgian nationals of Iranian origin, were arrested in Brussels by Belgian security services on the day of the rally on June 30. French police arrested another three people, but later released two of them.

Assadi has been registered as a third counsellor at the Iranian embassy in Vienna since 2014. German prosecutors said he is a member of the Iranian intelligence service, the Ministry of Intelligence and Security, and his job is to spy on opposition groups inside and outside Iran. 

He was detained this month near the Bavarian city of Aschaffenburg on a European arrest warrant. The charges against him in Germany did not preclude his extradition to Belgium, where authorities have been leading the investigation into the bomb plot, prosecutors said. 

Last month’s rally calling for regime change in Iran was attended by about 25,000 people, including leading politicians from the US, Europe and the Middle East. 

It was addressed by US President Donald Trump’s lawyer, the former New York mayor Rudy Giuliani, and Newt Gingrich, former Speaker of the US House of Representatives. 

Iran has used embassies as cover to plot terrorist attacks, the US State Department said on Wednesday, and all countries should carefully examine staff at Iranian diplomatic missions.

“If Iran can plot bomb attacks in Paris, they can plot attacks anywhere in the world, and we urge all nations to be vigilant. The most recent plot ... is another chapter in a long history that dates back to 1984,” a senior official said.


South Sudan plans to build new capital in former game park

Updated 20 min 21 sec ago
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South Sudan plans to build new capital in former game park

  • The new capital, to be named Ramciel, will be located in Lakes State and will be built in an area that was previously a rhino sanctuary in the forest
  • The initial planning for the project is being funded by approximately $5 million from Morocco and will be carried out by South Korea

JUBA: South Sudan is planning to construct a new state capital in a central location in what was a wildlife park, a move that officials say will make the seat of government more accessible to the people, the government said on Wednesday.
“We’re not supposed to have our capital near the borders. The capital is the center of everything and it needs to be easy for everyone to come,” government spokesman Michael Makuei told The Associated Press.
The new capital, to be named Ramciel, will be located in Lakes State and will be built in an area that was previously a rhino sanctuary in the forest. The land is currently uninhabited and lacks basic infrastructure such as roads and electricity.
The initial planning for the project is being funded by approximately $5 million from Morocco and will be carried out by South Korea. Morrocan and Korean engineers will visit the site this week to begin demarcating areas for roads, utilities, markets, residential areas and key government installations.
Plans to move the capital from Juba, where it is now, to the new city have been in the works since before South Sudan gained independence from Sudan in 2011, said the government. Morocco’s decision to contribute to the project was discussed during King Mohammed VI’s trip to the war-torn nation in February, 2017.
The executive branch will move to Ramciel, while Juba will remain South Sudan’s commercial center as well as either the judicial or legislative hub, he said.
Five years of civil war have devastated South Sudan, killing almost 400,000 people and displacing millions. The power sharing agreement signed by warring parties in September is the latest attempt at peace, although implementation of the accord has been fraught with delays and there has been continued fighting in parts of the country.
At least one South Sudan analyst says the move to the new capital should not be a priority.
“Roads, health, education, economy and a stabilization agenda should top the list,” Augustino Ting Mayai, a researcher at the Sudd Institute in Juba.