Iran summons French, Belgium, German envoys over diplomat arrest


Officials in Belgium, France and Germany have arrested six people over an alleged plot to bomb a large rally of exiled Iranian opposition supporters in France this past weekend.

Belgian police intercepted two suspects on Saturday with 500 grams of a home-made explosive powder, as well as a detonation device in their vehicle, Reuters reported, citing a joint statement by the Belgian prosecutor and Belgian intelligence services.

The two would be charged with attempted terrorist murder and preparation of a terrorist act.

It added that the diplomat at the Iranian embassy in the Austrian capital, Vienna, was arrested in Germany.

The pair were suspected of planning to commit a "bomb attack" at the gathering in Villepinte, on the outskirts of Paris on Saturday, which was organised by the exiled group, National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI).

French judicial sources said on Wednesday they had received a request from Belgium to extradite a man of Iranian origin who was arrested in Paris on suspicion of links to the plot.

He claimed it was done as a favor to senior Iranian officials linked to President Hassan Rouhani, and he alleged the move sparked a competition among Iranian officials over whose children would benefit from the scheme.

Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif called the allegations of a foiled terrorist plot a ploy Monday.

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Commenting on the arrests, Mr Giuliani said the participants at the rally "appreciate and admire the fine work of law enforcement, particularly in Belgium and France".

Saturday's podium also witnessed former US House Speaker and informal Trump adviser Newt Gingrich, former Federal Bureau of Investigation director Louis Freeh, former US ambassador to the United Nations Bill Richardson, former Canadian prime minister Stephen Harper, five British MPs, a former French prime minister and former foreign minister.

Iran's official IRNA news agency said the foreign ministry had summoned France's ambassador to Tehran, Francois Senemaud, to hear officials "strongly protesting against the activities of the terrorist and hypocritical MEK group in France".

The claimed foiled attack was meant to have targeted a meeting of thousands of Iranian opposition supporters just north of Paris that was also attended by leading U.S. figures, including close allies of President Donald Trump.

Giuliani said that sanctions against the Regime, which have already seen many companies pull out of Iran, must be increased and said that Europe, who is now trying to save the 2015 deal, should be "ashamed" of itself.

The report says Deputy Foreign Minister Abbass Araghchi held separate meetings with the three diplomats in Tehran to express Iran's "strong protest" over the detention of Tehran's Vienna-based envoy, Assadollah Assadi.

The People's Mujahedin of Iran is an Islamic organization that advocates the overthrow of Iran's government. "Iran unequivocally condemns all violence & terror anywhere".

The United States did the same in September 2012, having originally listed the group in 1997.