Iran sentences Belgian to 40 years in prison and 74 lashes, Tasnim says

DUBAI (Reuters) – Iran said on Tuesday it had handed a 40-year prison sentence to a Belgian citizen detained in the country, who will also receive 74 lashes, the semi-official Tasnim news agency reported.

Olivier Vandecasteele, a 41-year-old aid worker, was convicted of spying and cooperating with the United States against Iran as well as money laundering, charges he denies.

The Iranian authorities have multiplied in recent months the arrests of foreign nationals or dual nationals, accusing Western countries of encouraging the uprising of the Iranian people since the death in custody in September of Mahsa Amini, a young Iranian Kurd who had been arrested for non-compliant veil.

In November, the French Minister of Foreign Affairs, Catherine Colonna, had indicated that seven French people were detained in Iran and had condemned “diplomacy of hostages”.

(Report by the Dubai office, Blandine Hénault for the French version, edited by Nicolas Delame)

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