July 4, 2018
Austria will seek to lift the legal immunity of an Iranian diplomat linked to a bomb plot against an Iranian opposition rally that was held in France over the weekend.
The Iranian government was notified that the man’s diplomatic status would be canceled within 48 hours unless Tehran does so first, Matthias Forenbacher, a spokesman for Austria’s foreign minister, told The Associated Press.
The diplomat, Assadollah Assadi, was detained Sunday near the German city of Aschaffenburg on a European arrest warrant after a couple with Iranian roots was stopped in Belgium and authorities reported finding powerful explosives in their car.
The web site of the Austrian Foreign Ministry lists Assadi as a counselor at the Iranian Embassy in Vienna.
Iran’s ambassador was summoned to the ministry Monday and asked to “contribute to clarifying the situation,” Forenbacher said. Iranian President Hassan Rouhani is scheduled to travel to Austria on Wednesday for a long-planned visit.
Belgian authorities accuse Assadi of being part of a plot to set off explosives at a rally of the National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI) in neighboring France and want him extradited.
Munich prosecutors told the AP they are also investigating the diplomat in connection with the alleged plan.
Iranian Foreign Minister Mohamad Javad Zarif called the allegations of a foiled extremist plot a ploy Monday.
Rouhani’s visit to Switzerland and Austria was shaken by the diplomat’s arrest.
Details of his arrest emerged as Rouhani began a European tour seeking assurances about the Iranian nuclear deal, which has been thrown in to doubt after the unilateral withdrawal of the US.
The plotters were planning on targeting a meeting of the Paris-based NCRI – an umbrella bloc of opposition groups in exile that seek an end to clerical rule in Iran.
The NCRI meeting, which attracted a crowd of thousands, took place on Saturday in Villepinte, just outside Paris, a three-hour drive from Brussels.
US President Donald Trump’s lawyer Rudy Giuliani and several former European and Arab ministers attended the meeting.