Iran sentences Belgian 'spy' to 40 years

Iran has sentenced a Belgian citizen to 40 years in jail and 74 lashes for charges including spying, the Tasnim news agency reports, a significant increase on the 28-year sentence Belgium had reported in December.

Aid worker Olivier Vandecasteele was sentenced on four charges, including spying on Iran, co-operating with the United States against Iran, currency smuggling and money-laundering, Tasnim reported, adding that he could appeal the verdict.

Vandecasteele has denied all the charges.

Belgium's Justice Minister in December said Vandecasteele was in prison "for a fabricated series of crimes" and had been sentenced as retribution for a 20-year jail sentence Belgian courts imposed on an Iranian diplomat in 2021.

Assadolah Assadi was found guilty of attempted terrorism after a foiled plot to bomb a rally of the National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI), opposed to the Islamic Republic, near Paris in June 2018.