A Jewish member of the Belgian Parliament, Michael Freilich, was sued by Iranian journalist Antoine Shahbandi after tweeting against him.
The incident happened a few months ago, when there was an uproar in Belgium after the Foreign Minister, Hadja Lahbib, approved the granting of a visa to a delegation from Iran, headed by Alireza Zakani, the mayor of Tehran, in order to participate in a conference in Brussels.
As a result, she was under increasing pressure from members of the opposition, as well as members of the government, who demanded that she resign from her position.
Antoine Shahbandi, an Iranian journalist living and working in Belgium, posted videos of the debate and later posted a cartoon on Facebook with a message encouraging her stance against Freilich party.
Freilich retorted by tweeting a suggestion that Antoine was an Iranian agent.
In response, Antoine Shahbandi demanded that the Jewish politician remove the tweet, and if he should refuse, compensation and a fine of thousands of euros. However, the court in Antwerp did not accept the demand to immediately remove the tweet.
"The man distributes a cartoon and takes pictures with a Camry," Freilich explained to the media in Belgium. "People from Iran pulled my sleeve and said: 'Pay attention Michael, he is connected to the regime'. Then I checked and indeed: he used to work for Iranian state television. There are also videos circulating in which he speaks in favor of the regime."
"So I'm wondering: Is his journalist ID approved in Belgium? The man is now talking about defamation, I just asked the question: Is he part of the long arm of the Iranian regime?".
As mentioned, the court rejected the request to remove the tweet, and the hearing on the matter will continue in the coming days.