Iran sentences Belgian citizen to 40 years in prison over espionage
Iran's Judiciary has sentenced a Belgian citizen to a total of 40 years in prison after finding him guilty of four charges, including espionage and smuggling.
The ruling was handed down on Tuesday after Olivier Vandecasteele was convicted by the Judiciary of four charges, including spying activities, collusion with the United States, currency smuggling and money laundering.
The Judiciary's Mizan news agency said the 41-year-old Belgian national was found guilty of "espionage against the Islamic Republic of Iran for the benefit of foreign intelligence services," and given a 12 and a half year jail sentence.
Vandecasteele was handed the same sentence for the crime of "cooperation with the hostile government of the United States,” and given another 12 and a half years for "money laundering."
The 41-year-old was also handed a further two and a half years as well as 74 lashes for "professional currency smuggling to the amount of $500,000.”
Mizan news agency said the issued verdict can be appealed within 20 days.
Belgian Foreign Minister Hadja Lahbib labeled Vandecasteele's arrest as "arbitrary detention" on Twitter and said Iran's ambassador to Brussels would be summoned in protest at the sentencing.
Vandecasteele, working under the guise an aid worker, was arrested by the Iranian security forces in February 2022.