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

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.


Military promises Pakistani doctors gear to fight virus

Updated 07 April 2020

Military promises Pakistani doctors gear to fight virus

  • Some of the doctors said they were mistreated by police and that some of their colleagues were beaten
  • The health ministry’s spokesman, Kianoush Jahanpour, said 27,039 people have recovered so far while 3,987 remain in critical condition

QUETTA, Pakistan: Pakistan’s military promised Tuesday that dozens of doctors who were briefly jailed for protesting a lack of protective equipment needed to treat the growing number of coronavirus cases will get the equipment they need.
The 47 doctors protested in Quetta, the capital of southwestern Baluchistan province, on Monday, when they were detained. They were released later the same day, according to provincial spokesman Liaquat Shahwani.
An army statement on Tuesday said the “emergency supplies of medical equipment, including PPE (Personal Protective Equipment) are being dispatched to Quetta.”
However, some of the doctors said they were mistreated by police and that some of their colleagues were beaten. The physicians declined to give their names, fearing reprisals.
Two doctors have died after contracting the new virus in Pakistan, which has recorded 4,004 cases and 54 deaths. Many of the cases have been traced to pilgrims returning from neighboring Iran. Pakistani authorities have imposed a countrywide lockdown until April 14.
In Iran, authorities struggling to battle the virus announced Tuesday they would expand testing to asymptomatic people, but didn’t say how many test kits they have available or provide other details.
Iran’s Health Minister Saeed Namaki said that with active screening of such cases, there are expectations the virus and COVID-19, the illness it causes, can be brought under control by mid-May.
“With this step, we will go after people without symptoms,” said Namaki, adding this would require a large number of tests. He didn’t elaborate. The health ministry said searching for asymptomatic cases would be combined with restrictions on both city and intercity travel and quarantine.
Iran is facing the worst outbreak in the region. Iran’s state TV said Tuesday the new coronavirus has killed another 133 people, pushing the country’s death toll to 3,872 amid 62,589 confirmed cases.
The health ministry’s spokesman, Kianoush Jahanpour, said 27,039 people have recovered so far while 3,987 remain in critical condition.
There are nearly 109,000 confirmed cases across the Middle East, with more than 4,600 fatalities.
In Egypt, the Ministry of Religious Endowments, which oversees mosques nationwide, called off all celebrations and late-evening prayer services for Ramadan, the holiest month of the Islamic calendar. The holiday, when devout Muslims fast from sunrise to sunset, begins April 23. Mosques and churches have already closed for prayer to curb the spread of the virus in the Arab world’s most populous country. There is also a nightly curfew but the government has resisted a harsher lockdown.
President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi on Tuesday sought to reassure the jittery public a day after officials reported 149 new infections, bringing the case count to 1,320 and 85 fatalities in the biggest single-day jump so far.
“So far, the situation is under control,” he said in televised comments. “The goal is to minimize the damage caused by the pandemic.”
The Egyptian military, at the forefront of the country’s fight against the virus, said it set up four field hospitals with more than 500 beds to help treat virus patients.
For most people, the new coronavirus causes mild to moderate symptoms such as fever and cough. But for some, especially older adults and the infirm, it can cause pneumonia and lead to death.
At a retirement home ravaged by the coronavirus in the southern Israeli city of Beersheba, another resident died, the eighth so far there. Dozens of the home’s resident’s have been infected and relatives have been staging angry protests outside the premises in recent days.
Overall, more than 9,000 have been infected in Israel and 60 have died, the vast majority elderly and many in assisted living facilities.