Published: Wed, June 12, 2019
Worldwide | By Isabel Fisher

Iran frees USA resident Nizar Zakka from prison, lawyer says

Iran frees USA resident Nizar Zakka from prison, lawyer says

Nizar Zakka, an information technology specialist who holds US residency, was sentenced to 10 years in jail and fined $4.2 million in 2016.

Iran's semi-official Fars news agency meanwhile said Zakka would be handed over to representatives of Hezbollah on Tuesday, rather than the top Lebanese security official who flew to Tehran earlier this week. "However, Ibrahim said Iran's freeing of Zakka was not part of any wider deal", the Reuters news agency said.

The statement claimed that Zakka, who graduated from the Riverside Military Academy of Gainesville in Georgia, had "deep links" with United States military and intelligence agencies.

Following his arrival to Beirut, Zakka said that he is not an agent and that he was arrested in Iran under false pretenses, in a joint press conference with the Lebanese Chief of General Security Abbas Ibrahim.

The move to free Zakka, 52, follows a months-long effort by Lebanese officials to negotiate his release. His release comes as tensions between Iran and the US remain high after President Donald Trump withdrew America from Tehran's nuclear deal with world powers.

Esmaili stressed that Zakka's release was within "the frame of the law".

At least 11 dual and foreign nationals, or Iranians with foreign residencies, are imprisoned in Iran as of this month, according to the Center for Human Rights in Iran. His potential release comes as tensions between Iran and the US remain high in the wake of President Trump withdrawing America from Tehran's nuclear deal with world powers.


Zakka's release comes amid heightened tensions between Iran and the US after America's withdrawal from Tehran's nuclear deal with world powers.

This March 2013 handout image provided by the Friends of Nizar Zakka, shows Nizar Zakka, a Lebanese technology expert and advocate for Internet freedom, delivering a speech during the MENA ICT Forum conference in Jordan.

State TV later quoted an anonymous source as saying Zakka would be released on Tuesday afternoon and will be allowed to leave Tehran.

In 2016, he was sentenced to ten years in prison and ordered to pay a fine of $4.2m for espionage.

The State Department has yet to respond to a years-old request from the AP for information about those grants.

"This is in no way approved by the government", Molaverdi said.

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