Arrest and Detention of the Iranian Diplomat: What Is the Response of International Law?

Document Type : Original Article


1 Department of Public and International Law, Faculty of Law and Political Sciences, Allameh Tabataba'i University, Tehran, Iran

2 Department of Criminal Law, Faculty of Law, University of Edalat


The arrest of a diplomat of the Islamic Republic of Iran by the German police, which took place on 1 July 2018, became a news-making event; as a result, the 1961 Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations, and in particular its Article 40, turns out to be the matter of debate. Mr. Assadollah Assadi's car was stopped on his way back to his office in Vienna while crossing through a third country in Germany, where he was arrested on certain charges. The investigation process of the case took two years, and finally on 15 July 2020, the case was delivered to a court in Belgium. This article focuses on three main issues. First, it assesses the scope and content of Article 40 of the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations as well as the requirements set forth in this article. To this end, various similar cases in different jurisdictions will be explored. Second, it addresses the applicability vel none of the State responsibility, and third, it refers to the dispute settlement mechanism to which Iran might resort in order to protect the rights of its diplomat. This article argues that, concerning the case of Mr. Asssadollah Assadi, Germany and Belgium have violated the relevant principles of diplomatic law and, accordingly, these States must be held internationally responsible for their internationally wrongful acts.