Belgian PM De Croo demands immediate release of Vandecasteele with Iranian President

Belgian PM De Croo demands immediate release of Vandecasteele with Iranian President
Action in support of Olivier Vandecasteele, organised by the Olivier Vandecasteele Support Committee and Amnesty International, Sunday 22 January 2023. Olivier Vandecasteele is a Belgian humanitarian worker who has worked for more than six years in Iran for international NGOs. On 24 February, he was arrested by the Iranian authorities. Credit: Belga/Hatim Kaghat

Belgium's Prime Minister Alexander De Croo had a telephone conversation with the president of Iran on Wednesday, in which he demanded the immediate release of Belgian former aid worker Olivier Vandecasteele, who has been imprisoned in an Iranian cell for over a year.

Vandecasteele has been detained in Iran for more than a year after having been arrested in Tehran on 24 February 2022 on the (almost certainly fabricated) charges of espionage. He was sentenced to 40 years in prison, 74 lashes and a $1 million fine.

"My message was very clear: Olivier Vandecasteele is innocent and must be released immediately. Meanwhile, his degrading detention conditions must improve," De Croo said on Twitter about his conversation with Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi.

On Monday, Foreign Minister Hadja Lahbib also met with her Iranian counterpart, Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian, on Vandecasteele.

Vandecasteele is held in isolation, is suffering from malnourishment and other various medical problems – for which he is only occasionally given access to a doctor. Vandecasteele, who is 1.82m tall, now weighs less than 50kg, is in a cell without daylight and often does not even have a mattress, according to his brother-in-law.

A complete overview of the situation can be found here.

Latest News

Copyright © 2021 The Brussels Times. All Rights Reserved.