AFP: Belgium’s foreign minister will travel to Tehran Saturday to pick up a Belgian national who was freed a month after being abducted by bandits in southeast Iran, a report said. BRUSSELS (AFP) Belgium’s foreign minister will travel to Tehran Saturday to pick up a Belgian national who was freed a month after being abducted by bandits in southeast Iran, a report said.
“At the request of the Iranian authorities, I will go to Tehran tomorrow for the transfer of Stefaan Boeve and to receive him,” the minister, Karel De Gucht, said Friday, according to the Belga news agency.
The minister, who will return Sunday, said the release had been “a purely Iranian affair”.
“We did not directly negotiate” with the suspected drug traffickers accused of kidnapping Boeve and taking him into neighbouring Pakistan, De Gucht said, but he confirmed the abductors had contacted the victim’s family eight times.
Earlier Friday, the Iranian interior ministry said that Boeve had been released and would soon be handed to Belgian authorities.
Boeve, 28, and his travelling companion Carla Van den Eeckhout, 37, were abducted on August 12 in a notoriously dangerous area in southeast Iran. Van den Eeckhout was released on August 14.
His father Daniel expressed relief Friday.
“We have known since this morning. Our son called us for a brief moment. He’s in good health,” he said. “Our son is free and that’s the main thing. We are waiting for him now to come home.”
He could not say whether any ransom had been paid for his son’s release.
“We didn’t ask that question,” he said.
De Gucht said that Belgium would be donating 500,000 euros (692,550 dollars) to the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), but he said there was no question of this money being “compensation”.
In a statement, Belgian Prime Minister Guy Verhofstadt welcomed the release and thanked the Iranian authorities for their help.
“This release brings to an end a nightmare that Stefaan and his family have been living for several weeks,” he said.
De Gucht said in a statement that he was “overjoyed at this positive ending and thanks the Iranian authorities for their good cooperation, which led to the release of Stefaan Boeve.”